An RCMP officer is seen pointing his gun at a man while he is arrested on Sunday in Pelican Narrows, Sask., in a frame from a video that circulated online. (Facebook.com/Jay C Morin)
The RCMP are investigating after one of its officers was seen on video threatening to kill a man who was on his knees and being handcuffed during a recent arrest in a remote First Nations community in Saskatchewan.
The arrest is one of three incidents that happened on the same day involving the same officer in Pelican Narrows, roughly 540 kilometres northeast of Saskatoon, according to the RCMP. Two were caught on video.
The videos spurred calls from the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) for the officer to be fired.
The first, shot on Sunday, circulated widely online. The 10-second video shows an RCMP officer putting a man in handcuffs from behind, while another officer stands over the man, with his gun drawn.
That officer yells at the man “I’m gonna f–cking kill you” and also tells him to “shut the f–k up.”
He seems to say the man is under arrest for possession of something, but the sound is unclear.
Watch the video of the arrest. (Warning: contains harsh language):
The FSIN called for the officer’s “immediate termination” and for charges to be laid.
There was “absolutely no reason” for the officer to be swearing, or pointing his gun at the man’s head, the FSIN, which represents 74 First Nations in Saskatchewan, said on its Facebook page.
“This video … clearly shows the racist and ignorant actions of this RCMP member in Pelican Narrows and reaffirms that racism still exists within the force,” the FSIN said.
The RCMP said Tuesday the officer has been relocated outside of the Pelican Narrows detachment and reassigned to “non-frontline work.” An RCMP spokesman would not say where he was relocated or what work he is doing. The officer’s name has not been released.
The second video is of a different arrest that same morning was also posted online.
The officer can be heard telling a man, who is also on his knees with his back to the officer, to “shut the f–ck up” as he points his gun at him. While yelling at the man to “stay right there,” he approaches and makes an arrest.
RCMP are also investigating a “third incident” involving the officer on the same morning. Little else is known about it.
RCMP said in two of the incidents, weapons were involved and in one instance a machete was recovered from one of the people being arrested.
“The RCMP takes these matters seriously,” the police service said in a release.
“The RCMP has been in contact with local community leaders and will be making them aware of the results of the review and investigation as well as any actions taken by the RCMP with regards to the officer involved.”
They noted as part of the investigation, situational factors, police tactics used and the actions taken by the officer before, during and after the arrests will all be closely examined. RCMP will also launch an investigation to determine if the officer violated the force’s code of conduct.
“These incidents will be reviewed in their entirety, including the moments before and after what is shown in the videos,” the RCMP said.
The removal of the officer was welcome news for Chief Peter Beatty, of the Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation, which represents eight First Nation communities including Pelican Narrows.
He said community members requested his removal and an investigation.
“We’re good with them removing the guy for the safety of the community, and also for his own safety as well,” he said.
Beatty explained while he hasn’t had a chance to speak directly to regular band members, he has spoken with his councillors in Pelican Narrows.
He said the entire situation has made the community uneasy.
“What they’re saying is that people are very apprehensive about dealing with the RCMP,” he said. “They look over their shoulder all the time now, and when they see an RCMP officer, what goes through their mind is that scene.”
Beatty said he’d like to see more experienced officers who have good relationships with the community to be put in place, as he said this recent incident has damaged the relationship between community members and law enforcement.
“They’re going to go back a long way on progress they’ve made,” he said.
The RCMP are asking anyone with other video of any of the arrests to contact any RCMP detachment.