Charges dropped against Alta. First Nation Chief in violent arrest video
FORT MCMURRAY, ALTA. -- The charges against Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation Chief Allan Adam have been dropped. The prominent northern Alberta First Nations chief was the subject of a violent arrest earlier this year.
"The Crown reassessed the prosecution standard based on an examination of the available evidence including the disclosure of additional relevant material and withdrew the two charges, resisting arrest and assaulting a police officer, against Chief Adam," a statement from the Alberta Crown Prosecution Service to CTV News read.
Chief Allan Adam spoke Wednesday after the charges were withdrawn.
"I'm overwhelmed at the fact that the charges have been withdrawn because we knew, my wife and I knew we didn’t do nothing wrong," Adam said.
"If we are to move forward in any capacity, then we have to seriously open our eyes, of each and every non-Native Canadian, to the realities that we, Indigenous people of the land have had to live with for decades," he said.
Adam called on Canada to address injustices against Indigenous people and referenced recommendations from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, including cross-cultural police training, a liaison worker to assist police and setting up an Indigenous police force with full authority.
Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde responded to the news on Twitter, also calling for police reform.
"It is a true victory not only for Allan Adam and his family, other Indigenous accused, but for our society in general," Adam's lawyer Brian Beresh said. "It is a clear statement that the police are not the final arbiters of the law."
Beresh said this decision is further confirmation of the need for checks and balances in the justice system.
"This case, like too many others in recent weeks, shines a clear spotlight on systemic racism that for too long has gone unchecked and unbridled," he said.
Adam was charged after the RCMP dash-cam footage of Adam's arrest was made public earlier this month.
The 12-minute video shows Adam, who was stopped for an expired plate, walking back and forth between his truck and a RCMP cruiser, shouting profanities at an officer. Another Mountie then charges at Adam, tackling him to the ground and punching him in the head.
The RCMP initially stated that the officers' actions were reasonable, while the province's police watchdog has since said it is investigating the arrest.
A statement from Alberta RCMP on Wednesday acknowledged the role of the Crown to determine if it will prosecute a charge but could not comment further because of the ASIRT investigation.
With files from The Canadian Press