A Calgary police officer left a woman who had been traumatized by the side of a road after she reported a man had stalked her in his truck, exposed himself and then began masturbating in front of her.
“If you’re a woman in Calgary, Alberta, this video is for you,” the woman said in a TikTok video.
Postmedia reached out to the woman but did not receive a response. The video has been viewed more than half a million times as of Friday afternoon.
The woman said she was walking down Elbow Drive onto 4th Street S.W. when she saw a man in a white truck follow her. The man drove down alleys so she would walk in front of the vehicle before turning onto the street.
She said the man then rolled down his window and tried to talk to her, but she was wearing headphones and couldn’t hear what he was saying.
“He was fully unclothed from the waist down and was completely masturbating,” she said in the video. As he drove away, she took note of the man’s description and licence plate number.
Meaghan Walsh was eating at a restaurant across the street around 4:30 p.m. when she heard the woman yell out.
“I look up and the woman is beside herself. And a truck just drives off,” Walsh said. She crossed the street and asked to stand with the woman while she told the 911 dispatcher what happened over speakerphone.
Walsh said they weren’t sure whether the man in the truck would come back, and they needed police to respond in case he did.
She said she heard the dispatcher confirm an officer would be there.
Forty minutes passed.
“Finally a police officer calls her and says, ‘Can we do this over the phone?’ I heard that through the phone myself,” Walsh said.
“We were both shocked because it was very clear from the beginning that we needed a police car on-site and she needed to get home safe. And it was clear to us that this wasn’t a priority.”
Walsh said the woman asked if an officer was still coming.
“He said, ‘Well, someone can come. You know, I can come I guess, I just started my shift though. Did the dispatcher say someone was coming?’”
The woman, reeling from what just happened, decided to file a report later.
Walsh, who stayed with the woman until a friend arrived to drive her home, said she has filed a formal complaint against the Calgary police.
“I’m in complete disarray and shock because I see myself in her. I live in the Beltline area. I take walks by myself all the time in broad daylight and I assume that I’m safe,” she said.
“To know that if something like that occurred and I wouldn’t receive the services I needed is a very sad and striking thought.”
In an emailed statement, a Calgary Police Service spokesperson said police are in contact with the victim and investigating why there was a long response time. Police said the incident could qualify as indecent exposure under the Criminal Code.
Doug King, professor in justice studies at Mount Royal University, said he has never heard of a situation in which a police officer does not respond when dispatched.
“You have someone who gave a description, gave a licence number, and is standing on the side of the road distraught. And you don’t respond? Really? That is beyond the pale,” King said.
A written reprimand could be added to the officer’s file if police determine wrongdoing through an investigation.
“That’s exactly why you need to put in a written complaint, because if that officer made a mistake, he’s got to explain why he made that mistake. If it was an unforced error, there has to be repercussions for that.”
Calgary police commission chair Shawn Corbett said in an emailed statement victims of sexual violence should not have to wait for police to respond.
Corbett pointed to “immense pressure” faced by police officers “due to increased workloads and staffing shortages” and said improving staffing levels remains a priority for the commission.