RCMP video of the arrest of Chief Allan Adam of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation shows a brutal take-down by two Mounties of the prominent Indigenous leader.
Mr. Adam had alleged in an interview with The Globe and Mail last week that he was beaten by RCMP officers and his wife was manhandled after they left a popular casino-night club in Fort McMurray on March 10. It was an incident of police violence, he argued, that happens too often to Indigenous people.
A later portion of the 12-minute police car video shows an RCMP officer about to handcuff a visibly angry Mr. Adam, when another officer runs and forcefully throws him to the ground. The same officer can be seen punching Mr. Adam as the chief is heard yelling “what is it with you guys.”
Mr. Adam’s wife, Freda Courtoreille, and niece are also seen pleading with the officers. The chief’s face is bloody as he is taken in handcuffs to the cruiser.
Mr. Adam is facing charges stemming from the incident and the video was introduced Thursday as part of exhibits in court.
Corporal Curtis Peters, a spokesman for the RCMP in Alberta, said he does not expect the Mounties to comment on the video until Friday.
“No one has had a chance to look at the thing yet,” he said.
The Alberta agency, Alberta Serious Incident Response Team, that investigates police misconduct is reviewing the RCMP’s conduct in the case.
Brian Beresh, Mr. Adam’s Edmonton lawyer, filed a court motion Thursday to stay the charges of resisting arrest and assault on a police officer, citing numerous infringements under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
“In support of the motion, the police video and police photographs of Mr. Adam were filed as exhibits. These are now matters of public record, and are available through the Fort McMurray Queens Bench desk at the Fort McMurray courthouse,” Mr. Beresh said in a statement to The Globe.
“It is now clear why the RCMP refused to release the police video to the public,” he added. “All of this resulted from an expired licence-plate tag. The video speaks for itself.”
The incident started when Mr. Adam noticed the RCMP cruiser behind his truck in the parking lot after he and his party left the nightclub in the early hours of March 10. Mr. Adam went over and told the officer to leave him alone and he can be heard swearing at the officer.
“I am tired of being hounded by the RCMP. Just leave us alone,” he said. “Don’t stop behind us like you are watching us.”
An RCMP officer is heard calling in the plates, which had expired Jan. 31. Mr. Adam’s car had recently been taken out of the police compound. Mr. Adam is later heard explaining to the officer that they should have told him when he picked up the truck that the licence had expired.
The situation escalated when the RCMP officer is seen talking to Ms. Courtoreille, who was the designated driver that night and was in the driver’s seat. Mr. Adam got out of the vehicle and threw his jacket down. His wife intervened and calmed him down. Once Mr. Adam is back in the vehicle, the officer tried to arrest Ms. Courtoreille.
At that point, he jumped back out, fists clenched, and yelled at the officer to “leave my wife alone … don’t touch my wife again.”
When the chief and his wife returned to the vehicle, the officer rushed around, hand on his gun, and appeared to be gesturing to her. Other police officers arrive and Mr. Adam gets out of the car. While one officer is arresting him, another one rushes over and slams him to the ground. The officer then punches him.
Ms. Courtoreille was handcuffed but released shortly after without facing any charges.
With a report from Carrie Tait
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