Canadian News Jun 12, 2020 5:12 PM EST

Dashcam footage of First Nation chief arrest raises questions about RCMP police brutality

Footage captured from an RCMP vehicle dashcam shows Chief Allan Adam being arrested in March and in the process one RCMP officer tackles him to the ground.

Dashcam footage of First Nation chief arrest raises questions about RCMP police brutality
Quinn Patrick Montreal, QC
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Footage captured from an RCMP vehicle dashcam shows Chief Allan Adam of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation being arrested in March and in the process one RCMP officer tackles him to the ground without notice and then later punching him in the head while he's on the ground.

The arrest took place on March 10, outside a casino in Fort McMurray in Alberta, according to CBC.

The dashcam recording is nearly 12 minutes long and shows Adam getting agitated with one RCMP officer who has pulled up behind his truck in the parking lot.

"F--king leave us alone!" shouted Adam to the RCMP officer, within moments after he pulled up behind him. The RCMP officer's vehicle had its lights flashing. "Don't f--king stop behind us like you're f--king watching us." continued Adam. Later, Adam turns to the officer and asks him to tell his sergeant that, "Chief Adam f--king tells you, 'I'm tired of being harassed by the RCMP.'"

While Adam is yelling at him the officer is still in his vehicle and continuously asks Adam to go back inside his vehicle until he gets out to come talk to him.

"You and I are going to have a f--king problem, right here, right f--king now," responds Adam, who is getting increasingly angry. He then walks around behind his truck, takes his jacket off, and then assumes a stance as if he is preparing to fight the officer.

While this is happening Adam's wife can be seen trying to calm him down and frequently getting in between the two of them. At one point the officer grabs Adam's wife and appears to attempt to make an arrest and Adam starts yelling at him not to touch his wife.

The altercation goes on for about seven minutes before the officer tries make n arrest of Adam by grabbing his left arm. At the same time, another officer runs into the frame and tackles Adam to the ground. Once on the ground, the second officer punches Adam in the head while he struggles to get out from under the two officers. The second officer then puts Adam in a chokehold.

"F--k you, don't resist arrest!" the officer yells at Adam, "Don't resist! Don't resist!" As the officers lead Adam away, his face is visibly bloody.

Const. Simon Seguin presented his notes and the video in an affidavit filed in court. "I charged at the male [Adam] with the intention of bringing him to the ground," Seguin wrote in his notes. "I struck the male as he tried to come up," Seguin later wrote. "He turned on his right side. I struck him using my right hand on his right side of the face.

"I wrapped my hand [left arm] around his jaw and started squeezing." Seguin continued, "I then wound up placing my left knee on the back of the male's head and 'cranked' the male's left arm up." Following that action, "The male [Adam] was complaining of police brutality."

On Thursday, Adam's lawyer Brian Beresh, presented the video into the public court file as part of a motion hoping to have Adam's charges stayed. RCMP argued that the video should not be released because its evidence in the criminal case against Adam.

The RCMP had rejected Beresh's call to publicly release it. The RCMP said they could not release it because it is evidence in the criminal case against Adam. Beresh said in an interview that no senior RCMP officer could view the video and still believe that the officers acted appropriately.

"This was a false arrest; there was no basis for it, and it was excessive force used," said Beresh. "We reject that totally. We will let the public look at the video and make a determination."

Beresh claims that Adam's behaviour before the arrest was "a reaction to the systemic racism that his people have suffered for a long time, and that is a part of what agitated him." Beresh continued, "He, as the leader, feels that he has to stand up and make the statement,"

"If you're bothering me as the leader, what is happening to those people that have no voice?"

Adam said blood was pouring from his mouth and and that he had to fight to maintain consciousness while the officer continued to strike his back.

"Every time our people do wrong … [the RCMP] always seem to use excessive force and that has to stop," said Adam to reporters. "Enough is enough."

Adam said that if he weren't a member of a minority group, then he wouldn't have been subjected to the violence. Adam called the incident part of a broader pattern across Canada of police harassing minorities.

The video of the incident as well as the photo of Adam's battered face have brought much attention to the issue of police brutality in Canada.

Adam has been charged by the RCMP with one count of resisting arrest and one count of assaulting a peace officer. Adam is scheduled to appear in court on July 2.

Senior RCMP officers reviewed the dashcam footage and determined that the officers' actions during the arrest were reasonable "and did not meet the threshold for an external investigation."

However Alberta's director of law enforcement has since asked the Alberta Serious Incident Response team to conduct their own investigation as criminal allegations have been made by Adam and his lawyer towards the arresting officers.

"We have obviously all seen and been deeply alarmed by the pictures that Chief Adam shared," said Prime Minister Trudeau on Monday. Trudeau said he vows to bring forth "significant, concrete and rapid measures" to address systemic racism in Canada's policing.

Alberta's commanding officer of the RCMP has publicly denied that there is systemic racism in Canada's policing. Deputy Commissioner Curtis Zabocki also said he didn't believe the issue was systemic in Canada during a news conference in Edmonton, however he later said, "We all acknowledge that racist individuals can be anywhere throughout our society and institutions — and we have acknowledged that organizationally in the RCMP."

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