The family of a 14-year-old girl who was allegedly assaulted by a 13-year-old boy outside Citadel middle school earlier this month are criticizing the Coquitlam RCMP for how its officers handled the investigation.
But police said they have been in touch with the family and are trying to resolve any concerns they have over the Jan. 10 incident.
"Without going into any details with this file, we have approached the family and we are working with them," said Coquitlam RCMP Cpl. Michael McLaughlin, noting Mounties would not be commenting further.
"We are not serving the process by talking about everything we are doing. It wouldn't be respectful to the process or the family and we are not going to do it."
A 13-year-old Maple Ridge boy was arrested following the alleged assault last week. Police said at the time that they believed a verbal confrontation occurred between a group of four boys and one girl, and the girl responded with a "low level of physical force."
"At that time, a 13-year-old Maple Ridge boy is alleged to have used an inappropriate level of force that caused an injury to the girl," Mounties said in a statement.
The incident erupted on social media after the apparent guardian of the girl posted photos of the 14-year-old's bruised eye on Facebook.
The controversy was spurred on when accounts of recordings of the interaction between police and the family surfaced in the media over the weekend showing an officer encouraging the family to participate in a restorative justice program.
The girl's guardian told the CBC she felt intimidated by the officer, who is heard on the recording saying the 14-year-old could be charged in the incident because she was the "aggressor."
McLaughlin said the RCMP has not received a copy of the recording and only knows of its existence through media reports. He added that Coquitlam RCMP would not be commenting on the officer's conduct but noted that the investigation is incomplete.
"We stand by everything we have released in the news release and that we have spoken to publicly," he said. "But there are many details that we still need to confirm and fact check. Until we have all the evidence, we are not going to reach any conclusions."
Last week, School District 43 acknowledged it is aware of the incident and is cooperating with the RCMP but won’t be providing any further information.
In an email to The Tri-City News, district spokesperson Ken Hoff said the district “takes this matter very seriously and is addressing the situation.”
He added that because the incident involves an RCMP investigation and the privacy of young children, “the school district is unable to provide further comment."
Port Coquitlam Mayor Brad West also weighed in on the incident last week in a series of Tweets.
"Everyone has the right to feel safe in our school and community," he said. "We all have a responsibility to demonstrate respect and inclusion and be good role models for our children."
Meanwhile, an online petition has been launched at on change.org asking to "hold the RCMP and Citadel school accountable" for the incident. More than 1,400 have signed the form as of Monday afternoon.
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