WARNING: This story contains a hyperlink to a video that contains graphic content.
RCMP in Alberta used one of its vehicles to shoot down a man they believed was carrying a firearm on a highway south of Edmonton on Friday before arresting him.
Two people, one who saw the man before he was beaten and another who saw him afterward, told Global News that he is a local Indian.
The incident began to unfold around 11:45 a.m. when members of the Wetaskiwin RCMP detachment were called in because someone was carrying a firearm while walking south on Highway 2A, police said in a news release. issued Friday night.
“The Wetaskiwin RCMP, with the help of the RCMP Police Dog Services, responded to the area and quickly located a lone man walking with a firearm,” the RCMP said. “As the suspect was not following the verbal orders of the police to drop the firearm, for public and police safety, a police vehicle was used to disarm the man.
“A 35-year-old man was subsequently arrested. Officers at the scene provided medical assistance, and the man was later transported to a local hospital in a ground ambulance with non-life-threatening injuries. No officer was injured as a result of this incident. “
Police said the incident will be reviewed through an “RCMP internal review process” and not by the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team.
“This incident was reported to the Alberta Director of Law Enforcement and deemed within scope; however, although it is determined to be in scope, ASIRT will not conduct an investigation, ”said the RCMP.
A video of the arrest was posted on social media. and shows the RCMP vehicle hitting the man twice from behind. After the man is hit the first time, someone can be heard yelling, “Drop the gun!” The man then continues to walk before being hit again before police officers and a police dog run towards the man to stop him.
Peter Desjarlais of Maskwacis told Global News that he came across the man on the road and said it “appeared to be a rifle” he was carrying. When he stopped at a nearby business, he asked some people what was going on and said they told him that the police were responding to a man with a gun, but that it was not a real weapon.
Desjarlais said people told him the man was walking on the road because his vehicle left him. He said he was surprised when he later saw video of how the man was arrested.
“There was no need for that,” he said. “The weapon was not real. There were other ways they could have handled it. They had a dog … to shoot him down. “
At a news conference Friday night, Chief Superintendent Darcy Fleury, the RCMP’s Central Alberta District Officer in Charge, told reporters that he could not comment on allegations made by community members that the man did not carry a real weapon.
“Right now, we know it is a firearm,” he said. “(But) I don’t have the exact details.”
Desjarlais told Global News that the police often “treat our people quite harshly.”
“I don’t like to see what I saw today,” he said. “I’ve seen that too many times where our people are mistreated.
“I want to see justice.”
When asked how the RCMP will respond to members of the local community who are upset by how the police handled the situation, Fleury said the RCMP will explain to community members why the officers felt they had to take the action they needed. they made.
“This incident is actually the person with the firearm,” he said. “We will communicate with the community.
“The RCMP is there and we responded to a call from a person with a weapon, and we responded immediately. And we took the measures at that time that the members deemed appropriate.
“This person kept walking and obviously had some intention with the community…. So I think the message is that the RCMP is there for the safety of the public. “
Luci Johnson is a court worker in the area and said she passed the man after his encounter with police.
“We did not realize the seriousness of the situation,” he said. “We knew something was going on, but we didn’t think it was as dramatic as we came to see.
“You could tell that he (the man arrested by the police) was stressed … I honestly think he was in a state of shock …
“We are humans. How can you not feel compassion for something like that?
Johnson said the man had children and fears how this incident will affect them.
“We know that the RCMP has a job to do, but that was not part of their job,” he said. “If they are going to use the dog in that capacity, it should have been enough.
“We look at some of the incidents that have happened here and we just shake our heads.”
Johnson described his reaction to watching video of the takedown after it happened.
“The first time (the vehicle hit the man) it was shocking, but the second time it was excruciating,” he said. “It was heartbreaking to see.”
Johnson said he believes the RCMP’s relationship with the community needs to improve and that “they need to step back and look at our community.”
“There has been historical trauma,” he said, adding that while the RCMP’s role is to protect society, it sometimes feels like the police are “coming in and hurting us.”
“That was something very excessive for them to do with members of our community … how do we sit down and heal from something like this? … What is the RCMP going to do about it?”
At 7:30 pm, police said an RCMP collision reconstructor remained at the scene while an investigation into the incident was underway.
Police said southbound traffic on Highway 2A, about 1.5 km south of Wetaskiwin, was still drifting and that was expected to be the case for several hours.
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