Indigenous chief says Canadian police beat him over expired licence plate

WINNIPEG, Manitoba (Reuters) – An indigenous chief alleged on Saturday that Canadian police beat him in March after an incident involving an expired licence plate on his truck.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), however, say officers used reasonable force after Chief Allan Adam of Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation resisted arrest, and laid criminal charges against him.

Adam made the allegations as anti-racism protests spread across the United States and Canada, following the death of George Floyd. The black man died in Minneapolis in police custody on May 25.

Indigenous people have long said they face violent treatment from Canadian police.

Adam, speaking in Fort McMurray, Alberta, said RCMP approached his parked truck on March 10 as he and his wife prepared to leave a casino in the city.

After police refused to answer why they had pulled up, the couple began to drive away, before an officer ordered them to stop and pulled Adam’s wife from the driver’s seat, Adam said.

He then intervened. An officer grabbed his arm while a second one knocked him down and punched him, Adam said.

“We are a minority and nobody speaks up for us,” Adam said. “The RCMP always seems to use excessive force. That has to stop.”

According to RCMP, officers approached an unoccupied and idling vehicle with an expired plate. Adam returned to the vehicle and a confrontation occurred, said RCMP Const. Patrick Lambert.

Senior police reviewed in-car video and determined the officers’ actions were reasonable and an external investigation not justified, he said.

Adam’s lawyer called for police to release the video and suspend one officer.

The chief is due in court on July 2, charged with resisting arrest and assaulting police.

Adam said he waited to publicize the incident because he was busy with pandemic precautions.

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