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RCMP watchdog to probe possible racial bias in violent Nunavut arrest caught on video

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The organization that provides civilian oversight of RCMP has launched an investigation into the conduct of Mounties involved in the June 1 arrest of an Inuk man in Nunavut, including whether racial bias played a role.

Michelaine Lahaie, chair of the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for RCMP, says a video shows an RCMP officer opening the door of a moving police vehicle, which hits the man.

The officer and other Mounties then use force to arrest him while he’s on the ground.

Read more: Nunavut RCMP officer caught on video ramming vehicle into man, investigations underway

Lahaie says the man was then injured in an alleged assault by another detained man in a cell at the Kinngait RCMP detachment and had to be flown to Iqaluit for medical treatment.

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She says the investigation is to determine whether the conduct of the Mounties, including use of force, was reasonable.

She says in a news release that the probe will be a Public Interest Investigation into the conduct of RCMP in Kinngait.

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“The RCMP members’ conduct will be assessed in accordance with relevant law and RCMP policy,” reads the terms of reference of the investigation released Tuesday.

“Consideration will also be given as to whether racial bias and/or discrimination played a role in the man’s arrest and subsequent treatment.”

Lahaie noted the review she has requested by the commission is separate from an investigation by the Ottawa Police Service at the request of the Mounties and an RCMP internal Code of Conduct review.

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“I am concerned with the conduct of RCMP members involved in this serious incident and will monitor both the OPS (Ottawa police) investigation and the RCMP’s Code of Conduct investigation,” Lahaie said in a release.

“The CRCC’s investigation will provide an added level of scrutiny to the incident, as it will additionally examine the circumstances that led to the man being placed in a cell at the RCMP detachment where another detainee assaulted him and he needed to be airlifted to Iqaluit for treatment.

“I am aware that there is historical distrust by Inuit toward the police and I am committed to increasing RCMP accountability.”

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The day after the man’s arrest Nunavut Justice Minister Jeannie Ehaloak said she was outraged.

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“I have seen the video from Kinngait circulating on social media and am very concerned by the unnecessary force, the violence and the lack of respect I have seen,” she said in a release at the time.

“Nunavummiut should not fear this kind of treatment and disregard for safety and basic rights.”

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Ehaloak said she would formally request a review by the commission.

The Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the Mounties was created to ensure that public complaints made about the conduct of RCMP members are examined fairly and impartially.

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