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It was a misunderstanding, says man charged after drug raid
Father of youth who thrust a sword through a locked door at police officers said they thought they were being robbed

Meagan Leonard
Northern News Services
Friday, August 14, 2015

A drug raid last week in Lanky Court, in which armed officers forced entry into a unit and arrested the four occupants after one thrust a sword through the door, was a misunderstanding according to one of the accused.

NNSL photo/graphic

Yellowknife resident Michael Cotchilly stands outside his apartment in Lanky Court apartment, where he his two sons and his neighbour were arrested last week during a drug raid. - Meagan Leonard/NNSL photo

Displaying purpleing bruises on his left foot and ankle, Michael Cotchilly says he is filing a complaint with the RCMP contesting the way he and his two sons - an 18-year-old and 17-year-old - were handled by officers during the raid. A visiting neighbour was also apprehended but later released.

Yellowknifer reported last week officers were executing a search warrant at the apartment.

Cotchilly said he and his oldest son have both been charged with obstructing a peace officer and possession of marijuana. His oldest son was charged with assault. RCMP spokesperson Const. Elenore Sturko said because charges have not yet been sworn in court she could not comment on the case.

"The investigation is ongoing and the Yellowknife RCMP will not be releasing any further information at this time," she said in an e-mail. "I am not able to confirm any names or charges associated."

Cotchilly told Yellowknifer when officers arrived at his unit, multiple televisions were on in the apartment, along with music and video games so they did not hear the initial knock at their door around 8:45 p.m.

"My oldest son had his TV turned up and his iTunes too and it was loud," he said. "We didn't hear anything, then BANG, BANG, BANG ... that's when we panicked."

He said their apartment was broken into three months ago and they assumed something similar was happening again. He said his oldest son was unnerved by the last incident and became upset when he heard the loud banging on the door.

"(Three months ago) there was two or three guys at my door banging and kicking and they sprayed pepper spray under the door," he recalled. "When the RCMP came ... we thought it was somebody breaking in again."

Because the deadbolt was broken on the door, Cotchilly said he installed a chain lock for protection. When the banging started, he said they pushed a loveseat couch to barricade the door and he ran into his room to call the police. His oldest son then thrust a sword through the thin space between the door and the frame.

"He thought that somebody was trying to break in and he didn't know it was the RCMP," Cotchilly said. "If he knew that, he never would have put that sword through."

After looking out his bedroom window, Cotchilly said he saw the armed officers outside and called out to his neighbour who was in the apartment to open the door.

Once inside, he said four officers roughly arrested them, throwing he and his sons down on the floor. He said officers had their guns out when the door was opened.

"Both my sons and me were roughed up when they arrested us," he said. "When I was laying on my stomach ... they kneed me in the back of the leg two or three times, hard ... and we saw the RCMP kicking my younger son in the head with steel-toed boots ... they had machine guns and handguns drawn out to us and were yelling ... they used way too much force on my kids."

When asked about the allegations of rough handling during the arrest and his son being kicked in the head, Sturko said RCMP could not comment about the incident.

Cotchilly said later that night after being detained he was taken to Stanton for examination. Last week, Yellowknifer reported a police officer was also injured during the arrest. Both were treated for non-life threatening injuries and released, Yellowknifer reported.

Two ounces of marijuana were seized from the apartment, which Cotchilly says he smokes for medicinal purposes.

"I have a crushed vertebrae so that's why I'm collecting disability right now - that was from a fall at Homes North (where he worked)," he explained, adding his oldest son was also charged with possession. "He didn't have any drugs at all; the only one who had drugs was me."

Ultimately, Cotchilly says he is most upset about the way his youngest son was treated in the situation - having nothing to do with the sword or drugs.

"He's only 17 years old. He doesn't drink, he doesn't do drugs, he doesn't smoke or anything like that," Cotchilly said, sadly. "I'm really concerned about what happened to him - getting kicked in the head like that."

Cotchilly said he moved his family to the capital three years ago so his youngest son could receive a better education, but now they will likely go back to Fort Good Hope as the multiple incidents at Lanky Court have left them unnerved.

"I wanted him to try and finish his schooling ... now this happened and it ruined it for him," he said.

"He is traumatized from the way he got arrested ... he doesn't trust the RCMP anymore, now he wants to go home."

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