Independent review to be conducted after video of alleged police misconduct in Campbellton

·3 min read
An RCMP officer was filmed appearing to punch a man during an arrest in Campbellton, N.B. on Friday. (Facebook - image credit)
An RCMP officer was filmed appearing to punch a man during an arrest in Campbellton, N.B. on Friday. (Facebook - image credit)

New Brunswick RCMP have sought an independent review after a video of what appears to be an officer striking a man he was arresting was posted to social media.

Sgt. Mario Maillet confirmed the officer in the video is a member of the Campbellton RCMP.

He said the incident took place during an arrest on Friday after the RCMP responded to calls of a man entering a business while wielding a stick.

"When police arrived, the man resisted arrest and an altercation ensued between an RCMP member and the man," he said.

Maillet said the suspect refused treatment and is still in police custody.

The video

Warning: graphic footage

The 74-second video begins with two men, one who can be identified as an RCMP officer by his vest, attempting to restrain the suspect.

As the video continues, the officer, who is located by the suspect's upper body, appears to strike the suspect several times in the head, upper arm and chest area.

The officer then appears to straddle the suspect while another unidentified individual appears to be restraining the suspect's legs.

At the 29-second mark, a female officer enters the frame to assist the first officer with the arrest.

The female officer does not strike the suspect during the video.

During the video, several unintelligible comments can be heard coming from the suspect and the officer.

Quebec bureau to investigate

Quebec's Bureau des enquêtes indépendantes, or BEI, has announced it will be the independent party to investigate the alleged incident of misconduct.

In an emailed statement to Radio-Canada, BEI said six investigators should be on site by the end of Saturday.

They said the officers would investigate to determine determine whether charges should be laid against the officer.

They are asking anyone who may have witnessed the incident to contact them via their website.

New Brunswick does not have an independent body to investigate incidents of alleged police misconduct, which prompted the RCMP to ask the Department of Justice and Public Safety to find a third party.

"The RCMP, once that review agency is in place, will co-operate fully with the review," said Maillet.

Witness recalls incident

Gaby Soucy said he witnessed the incident.

He said he was in the drive-thru of the Tim Hortons on Roseberry Street sometime after noon when he noticed an RCMP officer tackle a man to the ground.

Soucy said the officer punched the man in the face and stomach.

Submitted by Gaby Soucy
Submitted by Gaby Soucy

"He punched him maybe 50 times in the face non-stop," Soucy said.

Soucy said he did get out of his vehicle and yelled at the officer to stop beating the man. He said he was told to mind his own business.

Context needed, says police association

While the video is graphic, one group is asking New Brunswickers to avoid a rush to judgment.

Chanel Roy, the president of the New Brunswick Police Association, said the video is "striking" and "alarming" at first look.

He said police are not trained to react the way the officer did in the video, but there may be an explanation.

He said videos of police posted on social media can often lead to people taking a negative view toward officers, but there may be circumstances that justify that type of force.

"There's always a context of what took place prior to what was captured on video," said Roy.

He said he agrees with the move to have an independent body investigate the incident.

"We've seen it in the past where other bodies from other provinces came in and did the work ... to be transparent and not biased," said Roy.

The officer has not been named. He will be put on administrative duties pending the result of the independent review, Maillet said.

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