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These Cops Arrested A 16-Year-Old Black Girl Because They Mistook Her For Someone Else

Officers were apparently looking for someone named "Latoya."

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Two RCMP officers in Surrey, B.C., handcuffed a 16-year-old girl on the ground after mistaking her for someone else. In a video of her arrest, she can be heard screaming and swearing at the cops, telling them that they have the wrong person.

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Surrey RCMP have admitted the screw-up, saying in a news release this week that they are investigating what happened.

“It is extremely unfortunate that this situation occurred and we are certainly mindful of her young age and how upsetting this was for her and her family,” said Superintendent Ed Boettcher, Operations Officer at Surrey RCMP.

The officers were looking for a high-risk mental health patient at the time, the RCMP says, and mistook the teenager for that person when they approached her at a bus station.

The incident took place on April 28, and the RCMP did not publicly address it until after the family filed a formal complaint and video of the arrest had gone viral on Facebook.

According to Ash Hotti, the bystander who recorded the arrest, the cops were very aggressive with the teenager.

Ash Hotti / Facebook

"These police came over and started talking to her and asked her if she was Latoya," Hotti told BuzzFeed Canada. "They just continued to ask her, 'Is your name Latoya? What are you doing around here?'"

According to Hotti, the teenager was clearly intimidated by the two officers.

"She started to back up because I think she was scared. She took a half step back, and maybe they thought she was running away, I'm not sure what they thought, but they grabbed her as soon as she took a step back and threw her to the ground.

"It was fairly hard. I heard her head smack off the ground."

He said after police realized they had the wrong person, they left without helping her up or making sure she was unhurt.

In the video, the girl complains about being racially profiled because she’s black. “My name isn’t fucking Latoya! Who the fuck is Latoya?” she tells the officers.

Ash Hotti / Facebook

"My daughter, she did nothing," her father, Garry Auguste, told CBC News. "She was on her way to find — what every parent wishes their children start doing — finding her first job."

The teenager told CBC News she has had trouble sleeping since the arrest, and that she has back and head pain. (The family has asked for their daughter's identity not to be shared.)

In a statement, Black Lives Matter Vancouver said the arrest was part of a pattern of racial discrimination by police in Canada.

"We remain over-policed and under-protected. We will not stand silent; we demand accountability," the group said.

The RCMP did not respond to questions from BuzzFeed Canada about the identity of the officers, redirecting all inquiries to the press release.

Ishmael Daro is a social news editor for BuzzFeed and is based in Toronto.

Contact Ishmael N. Daro at ishmael.daro@buzzfeed.com.

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