Police used too much force
on mentally challenged man: Parents
Sam Cooper, Vancouver Province, April 7, 2010
Rodney Moffat (centre) was strolling near his brothers home
on March 29 when RCMP officers responded after a neighbour
had seen him playing with a large orange and silver plastic toy space gun
and called 911. Moffat stands with his parents Karl and Eva Moffat.
Photo: Kim Saunders for the Vancouver Province.
The parents of a mentally challenged Quesnel man who was hurt by police in a toy gun takedown are afraid an unrepentant RCMP force will mistakenly shoot someone in a repeated scenario.
Rodney Moffat, a shy and soft-spoken 49-year-old, weighs about 90 pounds and lives with his parents in Quesnel.
He was strolling near his brothers trailer-park home on March 29, when RCMP officers swooped in with guns drawn and slammed him to the ground. The reason?
A neighbour saw him playing with a large orange and silver plastic toy space gun, and called 911, spurring police into a dramatic takedown.
Rodney was walking with the bulky toy tucked in his waistband, when a cruiser pulled up and a female officer ordered him to put up his hands at gunpoint, while a male officer tackled him from behind, he says.
He suffered bruised ribs and pain in his wrists and lungs after the rough arrest, and is currently on painkillers.
I bruise easily, Im a very small person, Rodney said on Wednesday. I dont even know how they got the cuffs around my little wrists.
Police say they took the gun call seriously as the suspect was walking near two schools, and they have not admitted any error in Rodneys arrest.
And that has enraged Rodneys father Karl, a retired police officer of 31 years with the Windsor Police Department.
They still dont believe they used excessive force on a retarded boy, Karl Moffat said in an interview Wednesday.
Following the takedown, Rodney was terrified, he was crying, he was as white as a ghost, Karl said. But its thinking about what could have happened that still haunts Rodneys parents at night.
What if he had turned around to run? They could have shot him in the back for no reason at all, Karl Moffat said.
The retired policeman said hes not interested in seeking damages from the RCMP, but he wants the force to acknowledge they used excessive force, apologize and ensure it doesnt happen again.
With the police thinking they didnt do anything wrong, could there be a repeat performance? What are they going to do in water-gun season? Theyre going to run silly, Karl said. Rodney is fortunate he didnt get shot [but] Im concerned this could happen to someone else if this is there standard practice.
They should say sorry and stop fibbing about it, Rodney Moffat said. Before I thought police were supposed to protect us, not abuse us, like they did.
Rodney Moffat said hes glad that police returned his new toy gun, but his mother Eva had to demand four times before police turned it over.
I just like playing with things like that I like the sounds and the lights [of the space gun] when Im watching Star Trek, he explained.
In an interview, Staff Sgt. Gary Clark-Marlow of the Quesnel RCMP suggested that the parents and local media are unfairly playing up the incident.
Asked whether an investigation into the arrest will be completed, or an apology offered to the Moffats, Clark-Marlow said no complaint has been filed, and from reading the initial incident report he sees no evidence that excessive force was used.
The parents seem to be accusing us of reacting to a toy pistol, he said. The big picture is ... we were about to lock down several hundred students. We had what we believed to be a credible threat of a person with a gun near a school that is in session.