Officers arrest Chief Allan Adam in downtown Fort McMurray, recorded on police dash-cam footage on March 10, 2020.
Dash-cam footage from a Wood Buffalo RCMP vehicle shows a police officer tackling Chief Allan Adam to the ground and punching him during an arrest March 10 outside the Boomtown Casino in downtown Fort McMurray.
The incident, which began over an expired licence plate, left the chief’s face bloodied and bruised.
Edmonton-based lawyer Brian Beresh, who is defending Adam, entered the video into court as part of a motion to have the criminal charges stayed. Police had previously refused to publicly release the footage, arguing it is evidence in a criminal case.
“A referee explains what happens and everyone moves on. It’s simple,” said Beresh on Thursday. “That is what should have occurred here and didn’t.”
In the video, which was recorded some time around 2 a.m. on March 10, a police officer is seen parking behind Adam’s truck. Adam, who is leader of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation, is outside the vehicle. He walks towards the officer and returns to the truck.
The first 31 seconds of the nearly 12 minute video has no audio, so what was said is not heard. Audio appears to begin when the officer turns on his sirens.
Adam tells the officer to inform Supt. Lorna Dicks of Wood Buffalo RCMP, that “Chief Adam f***king tells you I’m tired of being harassed by the RCMP.”
The officer tells Adam to return to the truck and he will talk with him soon. Adam accuses the officer of harassing him, telling him to “leave us alone” and “don’t f***king stop behind us like you’re f***king watching us.”
Adam returns to the truck to move a baby seat into the truck bed. Adam told media he was making room for a friend who was joining them.
Eventually, the officer comes over and talks with Adam’s wife, Freda Courtoreille, who is the designated driver for the evening.
What is said cannot be heard clearly. But after a few minutes of talking, Adam calls the officer “a son of a bitch” and rushes towards him. Adam takes off his jacket and gets into a fighting stance as his wife calms him down.
The officer continues speaking with Courtoreille and appears to begin arresting her. As she yells “ow,” Adam jumps out, yells, “Leave my wife alone,” and pushes the officer.
At one point, the truck inches forward and stops. Beresh says Courtoreille thought she was allowed to leave.
“It wasn’t an attempt at a getaway,” he said. “If they were trying to escape, they would have been driving a lot faster than that.”
Chief Allan Adam of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation after he was arrested on March 10, 2020 in downtown Fort McMurray. Supplied Image/ACFN
The officer walks to the driver’s side and talks with Courtoreille. Adam jumps from the vehicle and yells at the officer. The officer tells him to get back inside and grabs his left arm, as if he is about to arrest him.
At that point, an officer arriving at the scene runs over and tackles Adam to the ground.
Courtoreille and Adam’s niece come out of the truck and the officer tells them to get back inside.
As Adam is arrested, at least seven police officers are seen outside the truck. Courtoreille is taken from the driver’s seat and arrested.
Courtoreille was released and not charged, while Adam has been charged with resisting arrest and assaulting a police officer.
After reviewing the police footage, senior officers initially decided the actions of the arresting officers “did not meet the threshold for an external investigation.”
However, Alberta’s director of law enforcement has ordered the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT) to investigate the incident.
“It is now clear why the RCMP refused to release the police video to the public,” said Jay Telegdi, a spokesperson for ACFN, in a statement. “All of this resulted from an expired licence plate tag. The video speaks for itself.”
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