RCMP officer in Nunavut reassigned after video emerges of arrest

By | June 2, 2020

TORONTO — An RCMP officer in Nunavut has been reassigned to administrative duties after video emerged of the officer allegedly using their police vehicle to collide with a suspect before making an arrest.

According to the RCMP, officers in Kinngait, a community of 1,400 people on the southwestern tip of Baffin Island, were advised late Monday night of an intoxicated man who was said to be fighting other community members.

Video of the ensuing arrest posted on social media shows the man stumbling in the snow before an RCMP vehicle with an open driver’s-side door collides with him and knocks him to the ground.

The video also shows the driver of the police vehicle jumping out of the cruiser and three other officers arriving to help with the arrest. Police said the man was checked out by medical staff while in custody.

After seeing video of the incident, the RCMP have ordered two investigations into the officer’s actions.

“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,” Cpl. Jamie Savikataaq said in a news release.

“As the matter is now subject of an external criminal investigation and an internal conduct investigation, we cannot comment any further at this time.”

The officer has been removed from the community and is being placed on administrative duties while the investigation is ongoing.

The incident comes as protests mount in Canada and the United States over police misconduct toward racialized people, specifically concerning the police-involved death of George Floyd in Minnesota.

In a statement to APTN, Nunavut’s NDP MP Mumilaaq Qaqqaq called for action with regards to police conduct with Inuit people.

“Historically, the relationship between Inuit and the RCMP has been a rough one,” she said. “We have heard stories of forced relocation, dog slaughters and sending Nunavummiut south for tuberculosis treatment. We also know that the justice system often times doesn’t work for Indigenous peoples. We have seen, across the country, the need for cultural and sensitivity training.”

Qaqqaq also called for RCMP officers to wear body cameras as a means of gaining “more insight on the challenges and room for improvement within the justice system.”

Police in Ottawa are already investigating five incidents involving Nunavut RCMP since January, including three police shootings, a child who was hit by a police cruiser and the case of a man who died on the way to the hospital following a mental health apprehension.

With files from APTN

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