OTTAWA/WINNIPEG, Manitoba (Reuters) – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Friday that newly released video showing a forceful arrest of a Canadian indigenous leader was “shocking,” saying it raised serious questions.
Chief Allan Adam of Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation alleged last week that Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) beat him in March during an incident involving an expired licence plate.
This week, Adam’s lawyer filed RCMP dashboard video in a court application to stay legal proceedings for resisting arrest and assaulting police.
In the 12-minute video, obtained by news outlets including Reuters, Adam approaches a police car parked behind him outside a Fort McMurray, Alberta, casino to complain of harassment. When the officer repeatedly orders him back to his truck, Adam warns that the two of them are going to have a problem.
Later, Adam exits his truck swearing, removes his jacket and assumes a fighting stance.
After he leaves the vehicle a final time, he is held by one officer while a second tackles him to the ground. One of the officers then punches him in the face.
Adam is cuffed and led away bleeding.
“We have all now seen the shocking video of Chief Adam’s arrest, and we must get to the bottom of this,” Trudeau said in Ottawa. “I have serious questions about what happened.”
RCMP was not immediately available for comment, but Public Safety Minister Bill Blair, who oversees the RCMP, said he would follow the investigation closely.
The RCMP, which previously reviewed the video, has said the use of force was reasonable. An independent Alberta agency has begun an investigation.
There have been global protests since the death in Minneapolis of a black man in police custody last month.
Indigenous people have also been outraged about two other recent incidents with Canadian police.
Trudeau has said Canadian police should be equipped with body cameras.
(Reporting by Steve Scherer in Ottawa and Rod Nickel in Winnipeg, Manitoba; Editing by Hugh Lawson)