Nigerian woman assaulted by Canadian police outside shopping mall
Sarah Soyemi, a Nigerian based in Ontario, Canada, claimed that she was brutalized by police officers after which she was charged with various offences.
The 36-year-old single mother of twins said she was selling detox tea outside the White Oaks shopping center when a police officer grabbed her without explanation and another officer punched her, leaving her with a black eye, reports the London Free Press.
“It’s been a lot. It’s so amazing,” said Soyemi, a single mother of twins.
However, the London Police Service (LPS) in Canada said it was carrying out an internal review to understand what happened.
“While we disagree with certain details of how this interaction has been described, the LPS takes all allegations of this nature very seriously and as such the Chief has ordered that a review of this incident be carried out,” said Const. Sandasha Bough wrote in an email.
According to police, an officer called to the mall encountered a woman who had previously been banned from the property and was refusing to leave.
The officer arrested the woman, resulting in a struggle that drew in other officers and left one of them and the woman with minor injuries, police said.
Meanwhile, Soyemi said she was in the parking lot of the White Oaks shopping center talking to people about the tea she sells as an independent contractor when she was approached by a security guard.
Soyemi said she told the guard she was planning to leave in an hour: “Because I’m still new here in London, I haven’t met many people and I usually go to the mall where people leave their house and go,” said Soyemi, who moved from Toronto to London in Canada six months ago.
She left Nigeria in 2018 and said she supports her family with her tea sales and Ontario Works money.
Soyemi said when a police van pulled up next to her, she didn’t realize it was for her.
“[The female officer] got out of the van and loaded me up. She didn’t have a conversation, I couldn’t see who she was – she just got out of the van and tried to hold me back.”
Soyemi said she backed up and yelled at the officer, “‘Don’t touch me. I haven’t done anything, so why are you coming to touch me?'”
Yesterday, the Ontario police watchdog said he was unable to speak to Soyemi despite various attempts.
Special Investigations Unit (SIU) spokeswoman Kristy Denette said unsuccessful efforts were made to contact Soyemi after she was alerted to an online fundraiser in which she claims to have a detachment of the retina, an eye injury that can lead to vision loss if left untreated.
Soyemi created the fundraiser via GoFundMe on May 19 – the same day media began picking up her story after it was shared by Black Lives Matter London – with the aim of raising $250,000 for surgery in order to fix his vision and sue the police.
An injury that requires hospitalization usually meets the SIU’s severity threshold, but documentation is needed to substantiate claims, Denette said Friday.
“We need his medical records and news,” Denette said of Soyemi. “The door is open. If she wants to contact the SIU and go further, we encourage her to come forward.