Crown prosecutors dropped charges against Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation Chief Allan Adam.
A provincial court judge brought the case against the ACFN leader forward from its original July 2 date.
Wood Buffalo RCMP charged Chief Adam with resisting arrest and assaulting a peace officer following with an incident on March 10, 2020.
AFN Regional Chief Marlene Poitras credited community support and advocacy with playing a role in the outcome.
“This is a step in the right direction towards justice for Chief Adam. All of us who saw the video ootage can agree there was a gross misuse of force here. Chief Adam was unduly harmed for attempting to de-escalate the situation and understand what was happening.”
Poitras hopes this will lead to lasting transformative change to law enforcement in Canada.
“If the RCMP are going to treat our leaders like this, what are they getting with doing to our own citizens?”
Chief Adam said there should be a top-down review of the policing structure.
“I’m overwhelmed at the fact that the charges had been [withdrawn] because my wife and I knew we did nothing wrong. It was just for an expired license plate.”
The fine for driving a vehicle with expired license tags is $310.
Chief Allan Adam provided several recommendations to promote accountability.
They include an Indigenous-led police force, cross-cultural training, and a liaison worker to assist police when dealing with Indigenous people.
The decision follows the June 11 release of police dash-cam footage of Chief Adam’s arrest.
The 12-minute video showed police tackling Chief Adam to the ground and punching him multiple times.
His lawyer, Brian Beresh said one of the officers involved had prior charges from an unrelated case in August 2019.
“With that knowledge, viewing the video, [and] knowing the officer involved, who decided to publicly announce that the force used was reasonable?”
Alberta RCMP confirmed the charges against the officer, who was off-duty at the time of the incident.
On August 5, 2019, police charged him with unlawfully dwelling house, mischief, and assault.
The officer is due in court in September 2020 but remains on-duty.
Beresh also expects the ASIRT investigation into the arrest to continue.
“Our criticism in the past with ASIRT has been the delay in their investigations. This matter should not take long; we think the evidence is clear in the video and it should move forward.”
Beresh said he should hear from them in the next few days.