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Unsettling dashcam video shows RCMP officers punching First Nations chief

A newly released dashcam video showing RCMP officers tackling a First Nations chief to the ground and punching him in the head is just one of many recent incidents that have caused residents to call out systemic racism and the use of excessive force in policing.

The footage, taken in a casino parking lot in Fort McMurray, Alberta late one night back in early March, shows an encounter between law enforcement and Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation Chief Allan Adam. The police contact was apparently regarding an expired licence plate sticker.

The video starts with Adam approaching the cruiser after it pulls up behind his truck, telling the officer, "I'm tired of being harassed by the RCMP... just f*cking leave us alone and don't f*cking stop behind us like you're f*cking watching us."

The officer then tells him to return to his truck, and that he will be with the chief in a minute.

Adams does so, but after about 35 seconds, comes back to the cop car and asks the officer if he has "a problem with us going home." He is told once again to go back to his car, after which Adams says "you and I are going to have a f*cking problem right here and f*cking now."

Another minute passes before the officer exits his cruiser and confronts Adam, then proceeds to talk to Adam's wife through the drivers-side window.

The conversation is unfortunately not caught in the video but was apparently upsetting enough that Adam angrily exits the truck, removes his coat and takes a stance as if to fight the officer. The officer then tries to detain Adam's wife.

A third person then exits the truck to try and defuse the situation as shouting between the two men ensues, obscured in the video by the truck in question. More cruisers arrive on the scene seven minutes into the conflict, and it is then that another officer is seen tackling Adam to the ground from a running speed, struggling with him while yelling "don't resist, stop resisting."

Adam is at this point seen being put in a chokehold and punched full force in the side of the head.

The two and a half minute-long scuffle on the ground ends with Adam being lifted and walked — his face visibly bloody and dirty — to the squad car.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called the video "shocking," saying at his presser on Friday that "like many people, I have serious questions about what happened."

"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," he continued.

This change will start with the widespread implementation of body cameras and "quick reforms" in the coming weeks, the PM said, as well as a full and transparent independent investigation into this specific case.

Adam, who suffered a black eye and facial lacerations, held a press conference last weekend to draw attention to the police's use of excessive force, as RCMP higher-ups had initially said that the officer's behaviour was "reasonable" and didn't require investigation.

The National Police Federation also said in a statement on June 12 that it is "gravely concerned regarding the public vilification of the Wood Buffalo RCMP Members involved in this incident," justifying the officers' actions by saying that vehicles without valid registration are not allowed to be driven and that traffic stops represent "some of the most dangerous duties done by police."

But, the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team is now at least finally looking into the incident as of June 6. 

Adam, meanwhile, has been charged with resisting arrest and assaulting a police officer in execution of duty.

Lead photo by

RCMP dashcam footage

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