RCMP officer removed from Nunavut community after video surfaces of arrest
Video shows officer in Kinngait, previously known as Cape Dorset, taking down man with truck door
An RCMP officer in Kinngait, Nunavut, has been removed from the community and placed on administrative leave after a video surfaced on social media showing what appeared to be an RCMP officer using the door of a police pickup truck to run down an intoxicated man late Monday night.
In a news release Tuesday, police say the contents of the video gave rise to the concern of the actions of the officer conducting the arrest.
Immediately after watching the video, the release says commanding officer of the V Division RCMP Chief Supt. Amanda Jones issued two investigations — an independent external statutory investigation and an internal investigation into the actions of the officer.
While these investigations are being conducted, the officer will be removed from the community and placed on administrative duties, according to the news release.
"The RCMP takes the conduct of our officers seriously and want to assure the public we have confidence in the process of the external investigation to determine the circumstances of the event and whether criminal charges should be sworn against the officer," reads a statement from Cpl. Jamie Savikataaq.
"As the matter is now subject of an external criminal investigation and an internal conduct investigation, we cannot comment any further at this time."
Kinngait, formerly known as Cape Dorset, is a hamlet of around 1,500 people.
Police say around 11:30 p.m. on Monday, members of the public pointed out to an RCMP officer that "an intoxicated male who was reported to be fighting with others."
A video captured by a bystander posted on social media shows a police truck driving toward a man.
The driver opens the door, which collided with the man, knocking him to the ground. The pickup truck stops and the officer gets out, grabs the man's arm and holds him down. Four other police are seen helping with the arrest.
Police say the man was checked over by medical staff while in cells.
'Very concerned by the unnecessary force': justice minister
Nunavut's Minister of Justice Jeannie Ehaloak released a statement after watching the video.
"I have seen the video from Kinngait circulating on social media and am very concerned by the unnecessary force, the violence and the lack of respect I have seen. Nunavummiut should not fear this kind of treatment and disregard for safety and basic rights," the statement reads.
"I met with the RCMP V Division commanding officer this afternoon to express my frustration and outrage at this situation," writes Ehaloak, adding that she has notified the Civil Review Complaints Commission and will request a review once the investigation is complete.
And that of course is entirely unacceptable by any police force in Canada, very much including the RCMP.- Chrystia Freeland, Deputy prime minister
The video surfaced while ongoing rallies in the United States spread to Canada and around the world in response to the death of George Floyd. Floyd, who is black, died last week after a white police officer pressed his knee into his neck for several minutes even after Floyd pleaded for air and eventually stopped moving.
"The past several months have been difficult for our territory and I want to assure you that I take this very seriously and I am taking decisive actions to address this situation. It is only through accountability that the RCMP will continue to build a strong and healthy relationship with Nunavummiut."
Deputy PM asked about video Wednesday
When asked about the video Wednesday during a daily COVID-19 news briefing, Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said she had not seen it and could not comment on it specifically.
"Any instance of police brutality or mistreatment of Canadians is completely unacceptable and I think our country is today particularly aware of and concerned about racist behaviour by police officers, and it's right for us to be concerned about that, and that of course is entirely unacceptable by any police force in Canada, very much including the RCMP," she said.
"I do think this is a moment when all of us in our country need to reflect on both what we are doing and specific measures and steps we can take to fight racism."