A controversial arrest of a Kinngait (Cape Dorset) man on Monday night is being condemned by residents and shared widely online due to a video recorded by a community member.
The RCMP consequently revealed on Tuesday that an independent external investigation will be called, and the arresting officer has been removed from the community and placed him on administrative duties while the investigation takes place.
“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. As the matter is now subject of an external criminal investigation and an internal conduct investigation, we cannot comment any further at this time,” RCMP Cpl. Jamie Savikataaq stated in a news release issued Tuesday.
This is the third external investigation that the RCMP have called in just over three months. The other two came after separate incidents in Cape Dorset and Clyde River, each resulting in a resident being killed in confrontations with police. The Ottawa Police Service, which is looking into both of those incidents, has not yet concluded its report from the initial Kinngait incident on Feb. 26, an officer told Nunavut News on Monday.
In the arrest on Monday, police were responding to a report of an intoxicated man who was allegedly fighting with other individuals. In the video, a man is seen staggering. The door to an approaching police truck flies open, sending the man sprawling to the ground. Eventually, five officers are subduing the man. Despite the numerical advantage, an officer on the ground to the left of the screen can be seen drawing his knee back and appears to deliver a blow to the suspect.
Prior to the RCMP’s news release, Kinngait Hamlet Coun. Claude Constantineau said that council had requested more information from the police force about the incident but he declined to comment further.
Numerous political officials at the municipal, territorial and federal levels have called for Nunavut RCMP to be equipped with body cameras.