Calgary

Christian Duckchief reunited with family after suffering injuries allegedly at hands of RCMP

Christian Duckchief, 23, was released on bail Wednesday after he was charged with assaulting a peace officer and resisting arrest, stemming from an altercation that left him with four broken bones in his face and head last Friday.

Lawyer Dale Fedorchuk says he will file a formal complaint with RCMP on Wednesday

Christian Duckchief has been reunited with his wife and four children after being released from remand. (Facebook)

The Siksika father of four who was allegedly, badly beaten by an RCMP officer during an arrest is back at home with his family.

Christian Duckchief, 23, was released on bail Wednesday after he was charged with assaulting a peace officer and resisting arrest and breaching a bail condition, stemming from an altercation that left him with four broken bones in his face and head last Friday.

Duckchief tells CBC News the incident has shaken him a great deal.

"I can't feel most of my face," he said.

He says his surgeon is cautiously optimistic.

"He said that I should have a full recovery, there's still that chance that I may go blind, because it's a very fragile spot where it's fractured, so I have to be very careful."

Duckchief's wife, Chantel Stonechild, is happy her husband is home.

"I am very grateful to have him back," she said.

A formal complaint about the RCMP officer's actions has been drafted by defence lawyer Dale Fedorchuk who says he plans to file it on Wednesday.

Duckchief and his wife say they were sleeping in their home on the Siksika First Nation southeast of Calgary Friday when RCMP from the Gleichen detachment entered their home around 6 a.m. to arrest him.

Both acknowledge Duckchief struggled at first but they say it's because they were woken from a deep sleep and didn't realize it was police. 

But they allege one of the RCMP officers hit Duckchief at least 20 times in the face and head with his elbow after he stopped struggling and was handcuffed on the floor.

Duckchief was taken to hospital with a broken eye socket, a fractured cheek bone, a fracture to the back of his head and a broken nose.

The aboriginal couple — and many who have commented on Facebook photos of Duckchief's injuries — believe they are the victims of racism.

Photos of Christian Duckchief were taken by his family as he was recovering in hospital. (Facebook)

They suspect the arrest occurred because a friend had visited them the night before in a stolen vehicle but Duckchief's lawyer couldn't confirm.

"I have some information from them and I'm not at liberty to disclose what that is," said Fedorchuk.

"There are things that I saw in the information package from the court that we are going to be contesting but the appropriate form for that is trial and all of these issues are going to be fully explored then."

RCMP say the case is under investigation and couldn't speak about the allegation but a spokesperson for the service said the family is encouraged to follow through with a formal complaint.

'I understand that there are racists in my police force'

But Duckchief's injuries don't sit well with Carleton University criminology professor Darryl Davies who wrote a letter to Public Safety Minister, Ralph Goodale citing CBC's story.

In it, he references an appearance by RCMP commissioner Bob Paulson before the Assembly of First Nations in December, responding to allegations of racism within the service.

"I understand that there are racists in my police force. I don't want them to be in my police force," said Paulson.

"I would encourage you all, though, to have confidence in the processes that exist up to and including calling me if you are having a problem with a racist in your jurisdiction."

Davies urged Paulson to reach out to Duckchief and his family.

"To be fair Paulson never did state what he would do if members of First Nations actually called him. Perhaps now would be a good time to find out," wrote Davies.

"He never did give out his telephone number, perhaps your office should intervene directly in this case and request that Bob Paulson provide his telephone number to the Duckchief family in light of their accusations of racism and brutality against members of the Gleichen RCMP Detachment."

Executive Director of the Alberta Civil Liberties Research Centre, Linda McKay-Panos is also troubled by some of the facts surrounding the case, such as why officers were in the home at 6 a.m. to make the arrest.

"I'd really like to understand why they felt it was necessary to approach the matter that way."

Meanwhile, the incident has left Duckchief questioning some people in positions of authority.

"It was just a very scary experience for me," he said.

"I just hope that this doesn't happen again to anyone else ... I don't want anyone to feel as helpless as I did that day or fear anyone who is supposed to be protecting us."

With files from Allison Dempster

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