74-year old KumKum Roychowdhury says she was driving home to Calgary from her nephew's home in Airdrie when she was pulled over by Alberta sheriffs and asked to take a breathalyzer.
She alleges she was asked by officers told her to remove part of her cultural outfit and open her clothing, an idea she was "insulted" by. Roychowdhury said the officers demanded she take a breathalyzer, even though she says she had not been smoking or drinking.
Roychowdhury said she suffers from shortness of breath, a health complication she developed following a mild stroke in February 2019. Despite her medical issue, she said the sheriffs made her take the breathalyzer 17 times.
"(The) officer was really frustrated because I couldn’t make it all the way through 30 seconds, or how(ever) many seconds, I don’t know," Roychowdhury told CTV News. After this, officers asked that she remove part of her cultural saree dress as to allow her chest to take in more oxygen. "That makes me so mad because he has no authority and has no right," said Roychowdhury. "Maybe he’s a sheriff doing the law but I’m a woman and he’s a man and he cannot tell this woman that your chest is not moving. I feel very much insulted, how dare he state that your chest is not moving (or) your stomach (is) not moving."
The Alberta Justice and Solicitor General's office issued a response. "A supervisor will contact the complainant and speak to the officers involved in the Checkstop operation to obtain more details. The SHP is also checking if there are any audio or video recordings available." Roychowdhury believes she was treated unfairly as the sheriffs eventually let her go. "I was humiliated, I was in trauma," she said. "I was really in such a panic attack." Chowdhury's sister Mukherjee says female officers should be required by law to be present during these check stops, something she says is the case in her home country of India.
"Some women are not comfortable with the male police officer," said Mukherjee.