RCMP have videotape of alleged racially charged fight

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DIGBY A community leader in Digby says she is convinced that a surveillance tape backs up what two young black men say led to an allegedly racially motivated brawl last month with a group of off-duty police officers.

DIGBY A community leader in Digby says she is convinced that a surveillance tape backs up what two young black men say led to an allegedly racially motivated brawl last month with a group of off-duty police officers.

Some of it was kind of blurry, but from what I could see, you had two young black men walking down the street. They passed a vehicle. They turned around, said Darlene Lawrence, a leader in the towns black community, who was invited by the RCMP to view the tape of the June 21 incident last Monday.

You saw them go toward the person that said something and you had them backing up. You can tell from their reaction that certain things occurred.

Nova Scotia RCMP spokesman Cpl. Joe Taplin said Wednesday investigators are looking into whether the street surveillance tape, which has no audio, can be enhanced to improve its quality.

Lawrence watched the tape with Rev. Michael Fells and his wife, Donna. The Fells' son, Nathaniel, 19, was one of the two young men involved in the incident.

Fells and William Drummond, 20, claim they did not know the other men were off-duty police officers from out of town.

They say as they passed the mens vehicle, one of the occupants called out a racial slur. The two turned toward the vehicle and five or six men got out, backing them down the street. When the situation escalated, Drummond punched one of the men, knocking him unconscious.

Local RCMP officers were called and Drummond was shocked by a Taser.

Fells father said the situation has reignited racial tensions between blacks and the police in Digby, which have been healing since the force apologized a few months ago for racist remarks made by a former detachment commander.

It's very alarming. But whats even more alarming is the young man, Willie Drummond, who was tasered, who was beaten, who was called names, he said.

Lawrence said the incident adds fuel to the fire.

Even though the police officers weren't RCMP from Digby, it's just another pattern of behaviour. For them to come to a town not their own and conduct themselves like this is unacceptable."

The officers, from the Halifax Regional Police and RCMP from other detachments, had been visiting Digby, about three hours west of Halifax, for a golf tournament.

RCMP and Halifax police have launched investigations into the incident.

Halifax police spokesman Const. Jeff Carr said if a racial slur was uttered, it would be considered conducting unbecoming an officer.

Halifax police announced Wednesday they are launching an internal probe into the allegcations. The decision comes a day after the force stated that none of its officers had acted in an inappropriate manner in the incident.

The New Glasgow police department has also announced it will be investigating the conduct of a member of its force.

Organizations: RCMP, Halifax Regional Police

Geographic location: Digby, Halifax, New Glasgow

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