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Police watchdog to investigate Alta. First Nation chief's allegation of assault by RCMP
EDMONTON -- The chief of a northern Alberta First Nation spoke out Saturday after he claims he was beaten by RCMP officers who apprehended him over an expired vehicle licence plate tag earlier this year.
Chief Allan Adam of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation along with his wife and niece were in a casino parking lot in Fort McMurray in the early morning hours of March 10.
When the group tried to leave the lot, Adam says, an RCMP officer approached them about an expired tag on their truck's licence plate.
“Whatever their intentions were of doing startled me because why are they coming after me and why are they going after my truck?” Adam said.
He said he asked the officer why he was being harassed and identified that he was the chief of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation, before hopping into the truck.
“I told my wife, ‘We can’t go nowhere,’ and my wife said, ‘What?’ And she put the vehicle in drive and was just going to drive away and the RCMP officer came knocking on the window and screaming and everything from outside and he said stop so she stopped," said Adam.
That’s when they were told not to move the vehicle due to no registration and an argument ensued, with his wife eventually being taken out of the truck and pushed against a police vehicle, according to Adam.
More police were called in for back-up, with a second RCMP officer arriving on scene.
An altercation then occurred, and during that altercation Adam alleges he was assaulted by the two officers.
“I looked up, and out of nowhere the second officer who was the first officer on scene after he was called in, he just gave me a what you would call in the wrestling world a clothesline,” said Adam.
“It was just like a tag-team match where one officer holds me by the arm and the officer just comes and bridges me across the cheek and when I saw them coming I moved to the left, cause if I didn’t he would have bridged me on my nose and busted my nose.”
“I dropped to my knees and slowly I could feel that I was going unconscious and all I could remember just the blood that was gushing out of my mouth and there was a deep laceration inside of my mouth and blood was just pouring out of it.”
Chief Adam was later charged with resisting arrest and assaulting a police officer in execution of duty.
Police say the incident was captured on the in-car video system in the cruiser.
The video of the incident was reviewed by superiors as per policy, RCMP said originally, and that it was determined that the officers' actions were reasonable and didn’t meet the threshold for an investigation.
But Adam said Saturday that “enough is enough,” vowing that his voice will not be silenced.
“No one should have to go through what I went through. I urge the Government of Canada to fully investigate this matter, and to release the body camera video of my assault,” Adam said in a written statement.
Later that afternoon, RCMP announced the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team would look into Adam's accusation.
“The RCMP and the Director of Law Enforcement with the Ministry of Justice and Solicotor General's office in Alberta have discussed this incident," a statement read.
"An independent investigation into incidents involving police are important as it contributes to the trust and confidence the public has in their police service."
Adam is scheduled to appear in Wood Buffalo Provincial Court on July 2, 2020.