All charges against a prominent First Nations leader who the RCMP violently arrested for having an expired licence plate are being dropped.
Earlier this month, Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation Chief Allan Adam posted a photo of his bruised and bloodied face, days before RCMP released dashcam footage showing an officer jump-tackling and punching the chief during an arrest.
Adam was charged with assaulting an officer and resisting arrest, but those charges have been dropped, Jay Telegdi, a spokesperson for Adam, told VICE.
On March 10 at about 2 a.m., Adam, his wife, Freda Courtoreille, and niece were exiting the Boomtown Casino in downtown Fort McMurray, Alberta when Wood Buffalo RCMP officers stopped them in the parking lot. The officers then arrested Adam, allegedly because Adam’s truck had an expired licence plate.
The released dashcam footage shows about 12 minutes of the arrest. After one officer has a seven-minute back and forth with Adam, a second officer runs into the shot and tackles the chief to the ground. Two officers then restrain Adam, before one of them punches the chief on the head and catches him in a chokehold.
Adam and his lawyer, Brian Beresh, have repeatedly said they believe the arrest was racially motivated.
“This case like too many others in recent weeks shines a clear spotlight on systemic racism that for too long has gone unchecked,” Beresh said Wednesday.
One of the officers involved, Const. Simon Seguin, faced previous charges of assault in August 2019 and is still working on the force today, Beresh said.
Alberta RCMP declined to comment because the incident is currently under investigation. But the force has previously said the use of force during Allan’s arrest was “reasonable.”
ASIRT, a civilian-led police watchdog, is investigating the incident. Public Safety Minister Bill Blair said he’ll be watching closely.
Adam told reporters on Wednesday he hopes First Nations will be able to establish Indigenous police forces that will replace RCMP in Indigenous communities over time. He also said police need cross-cultural training, and mental health matters need to be treated differently than crime.
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