Campbellton mayor shocked by video of RCMP arrest, welcomes independent review
Quebec agency says it could take a month to investigate what looked like a violent arrest
WARNING: The video accompanying this story is graphic
The mayor of Campbellton says he was shocked by a video that appeared to show an RCMP officer repeatedly striking a man he was arresting in the city, and he welcomes an outside review of what happened.
In the video of an arrest posted to Facebook over the weekend, an officer appears to strike a man in the head, upper arm and chest area, while the man struggles on the ground.
"The way the RCMP reacted within 12 hours of requesting an external investigation shows the seriousness of this case," Mayor Ian Comeau said Monday.
"And we welcome the external investigation and applaud the RCMP for a quick response and requesting this external investigation."
Under contract with city
RCMP have provided little information about the arrest beyond saying that officers were responding to calls about a man entering a business while wielding a stick.
The RCMP has a contract with the City of Campbellton to provide policing.
Quebec's independent police watchdog, Bureau des enquêtes indépendantes, or BEI, will investigate the incident. Comeau said six investigators have arrived in the city.
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Comeau said he believes the man who was arrested was known to be struggling with mental health issues.
"Dealing with the issues now for the police force, for anybody, it's complex, it's demanding, and, you know, we have to look at maybe doing it better."
Comeau said the incident has left a lot of unanswered questions.
"There's a lot that will come out of this, we let the investigation do its course," he said. "Wait until investigators present something. There are many people to talk to out there, many witnesses and see what happened, you know.
"So I don't want you to judge or to conclude anything before we see a report or we see what will come out of this."
No provincial watchdog
Comeau said the municipality doesn't have the power to do much else.
"The city has a contract with the RCMP. We manage that contract. We don't manage the RCMP, we don't discipline the RCMP, they do that themselves."
New Brunswick does not have its own police watchdog, and agencies from Quebec and Nova Scotia have been called in to investigate incidents in the past. Recently, the Bureau des enquêtes indépendantes was commissioned to investigate the death of Chantel Moore, who was killed by an Edmundston police officer.
Guy Lapointe, a spokesperson for the BEI, said the Campbellton investigation should take about a month.
He said investigators are collecting information, interviews and more surveillance video from nearby businesses.
Once the BEI is finished, the report will go to the New Brunswick Public Prosecution Service, which will determine whether charges should be laid.
The BEI is asking anyone who may have witnessed the incident to contact them via their website.