A nearly 12-minute RCMP dashcam video — filed as a court exhibit on Thursday — shows the violent arrest of Chief Allan Adam of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation and the moments leading up to it.
The video is a court exhibit in connection with the events that unfolded in March. On Thursday, Jay Telegdi with the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation said Adam’s lawyer filed a court motion to have criminal charges stayed “as a result of numerous infringements of Chief Adam’s rights under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.”
On Saturday, Adam held a news conference in which he alleged he was beaten by RCMP officers outside a casino in Fort McMurray, Alta., on March 10 when he and his family were leaving for the night.
He said it started when an RCMP officer approached them about an expired tag on their vehicle licence plates.
The RCMP dashcam video shows two people, one of them Adam, who appear to be getting into a pickup truck. Adam is then seen leaving the driver’s door and walking toward the RCMP vehicle.
About 25 seconds later, he calmly walks back to the truck, appears to grab something, and walks back to RCMP. He is heard telling a police officer that he wants him to tell his superiors that he is “tired of being harassed by the RCMP.” The officer tells Adam to go back to the truck and said he would be there shortly. Adam is heard swearing and saying he did not like how police stopped behind the truck like they were watching him and his family.
After a while, Adam walks back to the police vehicle and asks: “Is there a problem with us going home?” He is again told by an officer to go back to the truck.
“You and I are gonna have a f***ing problem,” Adam is heard saying as he walks back. Soon after, an RCMP officer gets out to speak to Adam and Adam is seen going to the passenger door.
With the officer at the driver’s door, the two speak briefly before Adam begins walking toward the RCMP officer while taking off his jacket. At that point, a woman gets out through the driver’s door. Adam throws his jacket in the truck and goes back into the vehicle through the passenger door. The woman follows but stays outside with the officer who then is seen grabbing and twisting her arm at which point she yells, “ow!”
“Hey! Leave my wife alone,” Adam is heard saying as he comes out the passenger door and appears to knock the officer’s arms off his wife. The officer puts his hand on his hip in a way that appears as though he has his hand on his gun. Adam’s wife approaches and appears to try to speak with the officer.
Shortly thereafter, Adam and his wife go back in the pickup truck where his niece is also inside. Then, Adam emerges from the passenger door and a police officer approaches him and tries to grab his arms as sirens can be heard, to which Adam says “don’t f***ing touch me.”
At that point, sirens from another police vehicle can be heard, and the door of a vehicle is heard being closed. The video then shows another officer quickly running into view. The officer then launches into Adam’s neck with a clothesline tackle, knocking Adam over by his neck. The video then shows both officers on Adam and the officer who tackled him punches him while yelling “don’t resist.” Adam’s wife and niece are watching and the first officer at the scene tells them to go back.
“What the f***’s wrong with you guys,” Adam is heard saying before he emerges from the ground with a bloody face and with the officers holding him. He asks his family to get the officers’ badge numbers.
“You know you f***ing did the wrong thing — you know that?” Adam is heard saying as more RCMP members arrive at the scene and he is taken to the police vehicle.
On Saturday, Adam told reporters that he felt compelled to speak up about the incident because “enough is enough” and he wanted to shed light on what racialized Canadians face during arrests.
“We (Indigenous people) are a minority, and nobody speaks up for us,” he said Saturday. “Every time our people do wrong, the RCMP… they always seem to use excessive force. And that has to stop.”
Adam also alleged that the RCMP were already watching him and his family from across several parking lots as they loaded into the truck shortly after 2 a.m. on the morning he was arrested.
In a news release issued over the weekend, Wood Buffalo RCMP said officers initiated a vehicle stop on an unoccupied and idling vehicle with an expired plate when Adam returned to the vehicle, at which point a confrontation occurred.
RCMP said during the incident Adam resisted arrest and officers were “required to use force.” Police said the dashcam video had been viewed by superiors.
The RCMP has said the officers’ actions were reasonable and did not meet the threshold for an investigation. However, Alberta’s police watchdog — the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team — has since said it has been directed to investigate.
ASIRT officials said video reveals several people witnessed the arrest, many of whom recorded the incident on their cellphones. On Friday, ASIRT asked anyone who witnessed the arrest to contact investigators at 780-644-1483.
On Saturday, Adam’s lawyer, Brian Beresh, called for RCMP to release the dashcam video and said he wants RCMP officers to wear body cameras whenever they are working outside of a police station.
According to Adam, his truck had been impounded for 60 days beforehand, which was why the vehicle’s registration was not valid. Beresh said Saturday the vehicle has been in a police compound for reasons that were not related to Adam himself and that police did not disclose that the vehicle’s registration was expired when it was released.
In a statement released several days ago, the office of federal Public Safety Minister Bill Blair said the footage and use of force left them “deeply disturbed” and said all Canadians are entitled to “culturally competent and bias-free policing.”
“People across the country have serious questions about this incident, and they deserve fulsome answers,” the statement read. “While we cannot comment on a specific case that is before the courts, we will be following the developments of these serious and troubling claims closely.”
Alberta Justice Minister Doug Schweitzer said he would look into what occurred in Fort McMurray.
“I’m asking for details,” he told Corus Entertainment’s The Roy Green Show. He said that he did not have enough details to comment specifically on Adam’s arrest but acknowledged “that around the world we have an immense amount of frustration with how policing has been conducted around the world and we have to listen to people as well.”
On Thursday, Telegdi said he believes the RCMP must suspend the officers involved in the arrest and to refer to provincial Crown counsel for criminal charges.
“It is now clear why the RCMP refused to release the police video to the public,” he said in an email. “All of this resulted from an expired license plate tag.
“The video speaks for itself.”
Beresh said Thursday that “Chief Adam is fortunate because there were several videos that recorded this.”
“In probably 80 per cent of the cases we deal with, there’s no video,” he said, adding that Adam has watched the video and cries everytime he sees it.
“I think they should be suspended immediately,” he said of the officers involved. “There has to be an investigation.
“I think this is an example of the systemic racism that exists in North America. It can no longer be denied.
“It’s very specific, it shows the use of force. It shows an unreasonable amount of excessive police force used to try to enforce a $310 ticket.
Adam has been charged with resisting arrest and is due in court on July 2.
–With files from Global News’ David Akin and Allison Bench