RCMP can't explain silence on criminal charges against Fort McMurray Mountie
Officer under scrutiny for violent arrest of Chief Allan Adam charged in unrelated 2019 incident
The Alberta RCMP officer now being investigated by the province's police watchdog for the violent arrest of a First Nations chief will go to trial in September on three unrelated criminal charges.
Court records reveal that in August 2019, Const. Simon Seguin was criminally charged with assault, mischief and unlawfully entering a dwelling house.
"He did attend a residence while he was off duty and attempted to gain access inside this home," RCMP spokesperson Fraser Logan told CBC News. "An altercation ensued with two occupants inside before he left the residence."
Logan said Seguin had a personal relationship with one of the home's occupants. He said he didn't know if that relationship was with the woman who was allegedly assaulted.
CBC News learned of the criminal charges against Seguin on Tuesday. They had not been made public by RCMP.
Logan admitted that is a departure from typical practice.
"This is not normal for us," he said. "That is something that we are concerned about because, internally, we don't know exactly why those charges weren't made public. That is something we normally do."
Seguin, 31, was seen on an RCMP dashcam video tackling Chief Allan Adam of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation during a violent arrest in March. The video shows Seguin taking the chief to the ground without warning, punching him in the head and putting him in a chokehold.
Charges against Adam for resisting arrest and assaulting a police officer were dropped by the Crown in Fort McMurray, Alta., on Wednesday.
Adam was taken aback when CBC News told him about the criminal charges against Seguin.
"I'm speechless because I was not aware of this information," Adam said.
Adam's lawyer, Brian Beresh, says he wants to know why Seguin remains on front-line active duty.
"I'm very surprised that this was not revealed publicly and I'm very surprised … that this person has not been suspended," Beresh said.
Logan said an internal evaluation after the August 2019 incident determined Seguin should not have been pulled off the job. But he said that status will likely be reviewed after the conclusion of the criminal trial.
Kelly Sundberg, a criminologist with Mount Royal University in Calgary, described the situation as unacceptable.
"It's concerning and frankly, it's disturbing," Sundberg said. "What justification could the RCMP possibly have that this officer would maintain active duty in light of everything that's come to public view? It's unbelievable."
Sundberg thinks the RCMP needs to take immediate action to rectify the situation.
"Just for the credibility and legitimacy of our criminal justice system and for the police, surely someone would think of putting him on administrative leave, even if paid, until all this shakes out," Sundberg said.
The Alberta Serious Incident Response Team, which is investigating Adam's arrest, did not respond when asked if it was aware of the criminal charges that had been laid 10 months ago against Seguin.
Code of conduct hearing
CBC News has learned an RCMP code of conduct hearing into the August 2019 incident was held on March 26 this year, 16 days after Seguin tackled Adam.
A source, speaking on condition of anonymity, told CBC News Seguin was given a one-day suspension for the mischief allegation and received a letter of reprimand on his file for the assault allegation.
Logan was unable to explain the timing of the hearing or why it was held before Seguin's September trial.
"Honestly, I don't know," Logan said. "It's a parallel process and it comes up when it comes up. It's supposed to come up when any concern has been brought to light."
Beresh said he's at a loss to understand the timing of the internal hearing.
"I think this case leaves us with more questions than answers," he said. "I think the RCMP have to provide all those answers publicly as soon as possible."