UPDATE: On Thursday March 10, the RCMP issued a news release about the incident, saying the officer involved “drew a conducted energy weapon” prior to making the arrest. Global News has reached out to the RCMP to find out if the Taser was used. In the news release, police did not mention a gun being drawn.
Cellphone video of a physical interaction between an Alberta RCMP officer and a young Indigenous man was shared hundreds of times on social media accounts Tuesday.
The incident itself occurred in Rocky Mountain House, Alta., on Monday evening.
“(RCMP officers) actually received several calls for service for an intoxicated individual who was running around in and out of businesses, in traffic, yelling, screaming and punching vehicles,” Cpl. Troy Savinkoff said.
Savinkoff is part of the RCMP media relations team.
He confirmed the videos shared online relate to this response.
The witness who captured the videos has asked not to be identified. She too is Indigenous and is concerned about facing discrimination.
She told Global News she first saw the man who appears in the video when she arrived at a Sobeys store to get groceries.
“We had driven past a young man who seemed to be under the influence,” she explained.
“He was walking through the streets and highway just yelling.”
When she was finished her shopping and returned to the parking lot, she said she saw a police officer approaching the man with his gun drawn. That’s when she started recording.
The video shows a man walking around and then an officer pointing a gun at him. There is no audio.
The man then gets down on the ground and puts his hands behind his back before being handcuffed by the officer.
“Not once did he resist arrest at any point from what we could see,” the witness said.
The woman said she feels the officer was unnecessarily aggressive.
“(He) just ripped him up off the ground and starting pushing him to the vehicle, not letting him get his feet settled on the ground or anything,” she recalled.
She then stopped filming, assuming the ordeal was done.
But as she went to leave, she said she saw the officer push the young man up against the truck roughly, pat him down and pull his pants down before opening the door.
The woman quickly started recording a second video.
It shows the man standing with his pants around his ankles before the officer picks him up by his legs and throws him into the back of the truck head first.
“He flipped him in upside-down,” the witness said.
“It made me angry. It made me upset. It was disgusting that someone would treat a human being with such disrespect.”
RCMP told Global News the man was not injured and no charges were laid in relation to the incident.
Savinkoff said police are reviewing what happened.
“Currently, that incident is still being reviewed at the detachment level, to see if we would be looking proactively at a use-of-force investigation,” he said.
Temitope Oriola is a criminology professor at the University of Alberta.
He watched the videos and said he is deeply disappointed in the officer’s conduct.
“Such officers make law enforcement acquire a bad name,” he said.
“Therefor, I would expect a full and comprehensive review of those videos and the conduct of this officer.”
He said he believes the man being arrested just needed help, and added that he shudders to think what would have happened if he put up a fight.
“This person never in fact resisted, went flat on the ground, arms towards their back — and yet was still moved around and tossed into the truck like they weren’t even human,” Oriola said.
Chief Douglas Beaverbones from the O’Chiese First Nation said the young man in the video is a community member.
He said the community had been working to build a positive relationship with the RCMP, but this incident gives him cause for concern.
The witness said she hopes her video helps spark change.
“I would like to see repercussions for the officer, because as a human being, nobody deserves to be treated that way.”