‘This has to stop’: Bloodied chief in Alberta calls out RCMP

“The RCMP, whenever they go do their call there, they always seem to use excessive force.”

The chief of Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation in Alberta says the RCMP’s use of excessive force on Indigenous people must come to an end.

“The RCMP, whenever they go do their call there, they always seem to use excessive force. That has to stop,” he said.

Adam held a news conference on the weekend alongside other chiefs in Alberta and the Assembly of First Nations Regional Chief Marlene Poitras.

He says that on March 10, he and his wife were in a parking lot in Fort McMurray when the RCMP blocked his truck.

According to Adam, police said he had an expired license plate. He said he and his wife got out of the truck and he identified himself as a chief. He said he didn’t know the plate was expired. He said police roughly handled his wife.

“I tried to explain to the RCMP what was going on when he reached over and said he had enough of this. Made a gesture to put my wife under arrest. Grabbed her and put her in an RCMP vehicle. I said ‘whoa, stop,’ and they stopped. We argued for a bit and then I got back inside the vehicle,” he said.

“My wife came out, again, a cop grabbed her put her against the truck again, manhandled her.”

Adam said when he told officers not to treat his wife that way, he was restrained while a second officer hit him.

“I looked up and didn’t say nothing,” he said. “I didn’t see him coming. He just gave me what in the wrestling world is called a clothesline. It was just like a tag team match where one officer holds me by the arms and the other office just bridges right across my cheek.

“When I seen him coming, I moved this like this, because if I didn’t move, he would have bridged and busted my nose.”

According to the RCMP, officers did nothing wrong during the altercation.

“During the incident, Mr. Adam was being placed under arrest and he resisted,” said RCMP Cst. Patrick Lambert. “The members were forced to use force to enact the arrest. As a result, Mr. Adam has been charged with resisting arrest, and assaulting a police officer. The incident was captured by the in car video system so the video of the incident has been reviewed by superiors, as per policy.”

“It’s been determined that the members actions were reasonable and did not meet the threshold for an external review.”

The Alberta Serious Incident Response Team, a government agency that investigates police conduct, is investigating.

In Ottawa, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he is “deeply concerned” with what happened.

“We have all seen and been deeply alarmed by the pictures that Chief Adam shared. Obviously, Minister Miller has engaged with the Chief directly several times over the past few days. We need to do more. We need to take significant measures to move forward.”

Adam is asking police to release the in car video of the incident.

But according to the RCMP, that’s not going to happen.

“We have to comply with disclosure regulations, so that disclosure has occurred. The material has been disclosed to the defendant and his council of choice,” said Lambert.

“It is not routine practice for the police to disclose information to the public during the judicial process, so at this time there would be no video released.”

The incident between Adam and the RCMP is the latest violent confrontation between and Indigenous person and police.

On June 2, a video surfaced of an Inuk man in Kinngait being knocked to the ground by an RCMP officer who opened their truck door.

On June 4, an Edmundston police officer in New Brunswick shot and killed Chantel Moore, a 26 year old First Nations mother.


Video Journalist / Edmonton

Chris Stewart has been in the media for 20 years. He has worked at CBC, Global and CTV as a news camera operator and editor. Chris joined APTN in 2012 in the Saskatoon Bureau and moved to APTN Edmonton bureau in 2015 as a Videojournalist.