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Dashcam Footage Captures Police Tackling And Punching Indigenous Leader Over Expired License Plate

Dashcam Footage Captures Police Tackling And Punching Indigenous Leader Over Expired License Plate
Richard Lautens/Toronto Star via Getty Images

A newly released dashcam video has added more fuel to the argument about police brutality across North America.

The newest video comes from Canada and depicts the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) arresting a First Nations Chief.

Details about the arrest have been a catalyst for debate online about racism and racial bias in law enforcement.

The story starts when Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation Chief Allan Adam is pulled over by the RCMP.

Adam and his wife had left a casino in Fort McMurray, Alberta when they were pulled over for a expired license plate tags.

The 12 minute dashcam video shows Adam getting out of his vehicle and growing frustrated with the officers.

"I"m tired of being harassed by the RCMP!"

Adam gets into a verbal altercation with the officer, yelling for them to leave him and his wife alone.

Things escalated further when an officer moves to arrest the Indigenous leader and his partner rushes in and tackles Chief Adam.

The video shows the officers trying to restrain Adam and striking him multiple times. When they pull him to his feet, you can see his face covered in blood.

This is explained by the RCMP's notes as being because Adam tried to stand up.

"I struck the male as he tried to come up. He turned on his right side."
"I struck him using my right hand on his right side of the face. I wrapped my hand around his jaw and started squeezing."

Adam is charged with resisting arrest and assaulting a police officer.

You can see the full video here.

WARNING: Full video of Chief Allan Adam's

The RCMP have released a statement on the incident finding the officers handled the arrest with an appropriate amount of force.

They reviewed the dashcam video and found the incident:

"Did not meet the threshold for an external investigation."

Between this, and Adam repeatedly yelling at the officer, there are those online saying this was justified.

However, Adam and his lawyer, Brian Beresh have a different perspective. They called on the RCMP to release the dashcam, something the RCMP initially rejected.

Beresh said there's no way senior officers of the RCMP could have accurately concluded the arresting officers' actions were appropriate after watching the video.

"This was a false arrest; there was no basis for it, and it was excessive force used."
"We reject that totally. We will let the public look at the video and make a determination."

Beresh has also said he believes Adam's confrontational behavior was due to a history of systemic racism the First Nations leader has had to endure over his life.

"He, as the leader, feels that he has to stand up and make the statement. If you're bothering me as the leader, what is happening to those people that have no voice?"

This has gotten big enough that Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau weighed in on the newly released video.

He found the events in the video "shocking."

He echoed calls for an independent investigation into the matter.

"Like many people, I have serious questions about what happened. The independent investigation must be transparent and be carried out so that we get answers."
"At the same time, though, we also know that this is not an isolated incident. Far too many black Canadians and indigenous people do not feel safe around police."
"It's unacceptable. And as governments, we have to change that."

This all comes as civil unrest expands worldwide in the wake of protests against the police in the United States. The murder of George Floyd has roused a lot of questions about the public's relationship with the police.

It also followed on the heels of the death of a First Nations young mother in New Brunswick, shot five times by an RCMP officer during a wellness check.

In Canada, Indigenous peoples are 5% of the population but are 30% of the people killed by law enforcement.