Video footage of a prominent First Nations Chief’s arrest that resulted in gruesome injuries to his face is now publicly available after Alberta RCMP resisted releasing it.
An image of Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation Chief Allan Adam surfaced on the weekend showing his swollen, bloodied face and a bruise forming under his right eye. Adam said Wood Buffalo RCMP officers arrested and assaulted him on March 10 at about 2 a.m. He and his lawyer, Brian Beresh, have been calling on the force to release their footage.
The newly released RCMP dashcam footage shows about 12 minutes of the arrest—over an expired licence plate tag—that took place at Boomtown Casino in downtown Fort McMurray.
After one officer spends about seven minutes in a back and forth with Adam, his wife, Freda Courtoreille, and their niece, a second officer runs into the shot and jump tackles the chief, bringing him to the ground. The two officers manhandle and pin Adam to the ground, with one of them punching the chief in the head before putting him in a chokehold.
Towards the end of the video, at least six officers are involved in the arrest of Adam.
In the video, Adam tells the RCMP, “I’m tired of being harassed by the RCMP” and “Fucking leave us alone.”
Beresh told CBC News Adam’s agitation was “a reaction to the systemic racism that his people have suffered for a long time.”
Beresh and Adam have both said they believe the incident wouldn’t have happened if Adam wasn’t racialized.
After the incident, Adam was charged with assaulting an officer and resisting arrest. He is scheduled to appear in Wood Buffalo provincial court on July 2.
The RCMP footage was released after Beresh filed a court motion to have the criminal charges stayed, one of Adam’s staffers told VICE. Police video was filed as evidence in support of the motion.
On Thursday, RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki said the force doesn’t have a systemic racism problem and she “struggles” with the term.
The same day, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said systemic racism exists in all institutions, including the RCMP. He said on Monday that he was “deeply alarmed” by the image depicting Adam’s injured face and that the government needs to “do much more” to fight systemic racism in Canada.
ASIRT, a civilian-led police oversight body in Alberta, is investigating the arrest that resulted in Adam’s injuries.
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