Recently released footage of an incident in Fort McMurray, Alberta is making waves online. On June 11, a dashcam video emerged of Wood Buffalo RCMP officers assaulting Chief Allan Adam, a leader of Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation. The video has sparked calls for police reform in the RCMP. Even Justin Trudeau has spoken up about it.
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According to a letter posted by Chief Adam on the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation website, the incident took place in the early morning on March 10.
"Wood Buffalo RCMP Officers confronted my wife Freda Courtoreille, my niece and myself while getting into our vehicle in the parking lot of Peter Pond Mall in downtown Fort McMurray, Alberta," he wrote.
"The license plates on my truck had recently expired, and while the situation could have easily been resolved by simply reminding us to renew the tags and take a taxi home," he continued.
"Officers used the occasion to beat and arrest me in front of family and a number of witnesses in the parking lot."
Narcity has obtained the 12-minute dashcam footage from Theresa Wells, communications officer at Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation.
At the start of the video, Chief Adam is seen walking up to the RCMP vehicle. He appears frustrated and asks officers to stop harassing his family and to leave them alone. The RCMP officer asks him to return to his truck.
At the three-minute mark, an RCMP officer exits the vehicle and is heard talking to Adam. They exchange words and Adam goes to the passenger seat of the truck.
Police claim that this truck had an expired license tag. The car had been impounded in the past, reports The Guardian.
Adam and his wife, the woman in the driver's seat, enter and exit the vehicle a couple of times. They exchange words with the officer for several minutes.
At the 4:50 mark, the officer is seen grabbing the woman by her shoulders. That's when Adam yells, "Leave my wife alone." He gets between his wife and the officer.
Near the 7:00 minute mark, sirens from another police vehicle are heard in the background.
Adam exits the truck one more time, and the officer tries to grab at his hands. That's when another officer flies into view and is seen tackling Adam by the neck.
One of the officers yells at him, "Don't resist." Adam's wife and niece try to interfere but they're told to get back. Adam is seen wrestling with the officers on the ground.
When he comes back into view at the 8:50 mark, his face is bloodied and he is taken into custody by the officers.
"What happened to me is not unusual or shocking," Chief Adam wrote in the letter.
"This happens every day to black, brown, low-income and indigenous people across Canada."
Prime Minister Trudeau spoke about the matter on June 8, saying, "we need to do more." He says that he is actively pushing for more changes within the RCMP.
The Guardian reports that the Serious Incident Response Team, which is Alberta's police watchdog group, is now investigating the incident.