Dashcam Footage Shows Police Chokehold on Athabasca Chipewyan Chief in Alberta Casino Parking Lot

Posted on: June 12, 2020, 10:50h. 

Last updated on: June 12, 2020, 11:28h.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said he is “deeply alarmed” by images of the violent arrest of an indigenous tribal leader outside the Boomtown Casino in Fort McMurray, Alberta.

Allan Adam Arrest
Chief Allan Adam claims he is the victim of police brutality. The RCMP has said the officers who arrested him behaved appropriately. (Image: The Guardian)

His words came as Canadians joined worldwide anti-racism protests last weekend, sparked by the death of George Floyd at the hands of the Minneapolis Police Department.

Chief Allan Adam of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation was punched in the head and placed in a chokehold by Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) officers during his detention last March for an expired vehicle registration.

Adam was accosted in the Boomtown parking lot at 2 a.m. on March 10 as he adjusted a child seat in the back of his vehicle. Boomtown is a commercial casino, and while there are tribal casinos in Alberta, the Athabasca Chipewyan do not own one.

Police Brutality Claim

According to court filings, Adam alleges he is the victim of racial harassment and police brutality as he seeks to have charges of resisting arrest and assaulting a police officer stayed.

He has provided the court with photographs of his bruised and bloodied face. On Thursday, dashcam footage from the police car was added to the list of exhibits and circulated widely in the media.

The 12-minute video first shows a belligerent Adam swearing at police, accusing them of harassment. At one point, he removes his jacket as if to start a fight. He claims he was angry because of persistent harassment from RCMP towards himself and other tribal members.

Around seven minutes into the video, a second police car’s sirens can be heard as backup arrives. Shortly after, an officer is seen racing at Adam from off-camera, knocking him to the ground in what the tribal official described in court documents as a “clothesline.”

‘False Arrest’

In an affidavit filed to the court, the arresting officer Simon Seguin admitted he charged at Adam “with the intention of bringing him to the ground.”

“I struck the male as he tried to come up,” Seguin wrote. “He turned on his right side. I struck him using my right hand on his right side of the face. I wrapped my hand [left arm] around his jaw and started squeezing. I then wound up placing my left knee on the back of the male’s head and ‘cranked’ the male’s left arm up.”

On reviewing the dashcam footage, the RCMP determined that the force used was not excessive and that officers’ actions had been appropriate.

We reject that totally,” Adam’s lawyer Brian Beresh told reporters Thursday. “We will let the public look at the video and make a determination.”

“This was a false arrest; there was no basis for it, and it was excessive force used,” he added.

Alberta’s Serious Incident Response Team has opened an investigation into the incident.