An investigation of the arrest of Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation Chief Allan Adam has been launched.
The Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT), a civilian-let, independent investigative body that was formed in 2008 to act as the integrated investigative unit as defined in the Police Act, issued a statement on the incident after a video was released of Adam being tackled, punched, and arrested by RCMP officers in Fort McMurray.
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According to a statement made by Adam earlier this month, the confrontation had come about due to an expired license plate tag on his truck.
“While the situation could have easily been resolved by simply reminding us to renew the tags and take a taxi home,” Adam wrote, “officers used the occasion to beat and arrest me in front of family and a number of witnesses in the parking lot.”
The arrest took place at 2:30 am on March 10 outside the BoomTown Casino, according to a release from ASIRT, and the team is asking members of the public to come forward if they witnessed the arrest.
ASIRT noted in the release that their mandate is to “effectively, independently, and objectively investigate incidents involving Alberta’s police that have resulted in serious injury or death to any person, as well as serious or sensitive allegations of police misconduct.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke to a video showing the violent arrest during a national address on Friday.
“We’ve all now seen the shocking video of Chief Adam’s arrest. We must get to the bottom of this. Like many people, I have serious questions about what happened,” he said.
“The independent investigation must be transparent, and be carried out so that we get answers.”
Adam noted in his statement that what happened to him “is not unusual or shocking.”
“This happens every day to black, brown, low income, and Indigenous people across Canada. Despite only representing 5% of the population, Indigenous Canadians make up over 30% of the prison population here. Structural racism, out of date policing methods, and diminished socioeconomic status of Indigenous Canadians means that we rarely have a fighting chance in our judicial and policing system.”
Witnesses of the March 10 arrest or those who have footage of the incident are asked to contact ASIRT investigators at 780-644-1483.