Blood Tribe members protest over use of force during arrest of man wielding metal pipe
The Alberta Serious Incident Response Team has not been directed to investigate an officer's actions during an arrest on a southern Alberta First Nation that involved the use of a conducted energy weapon, and that decision isn’t sitting well with some area residents.
Mounties have also released still images gathered during the incident to provide additional context.
RCMP have released a Watchguard video still of a man armed with a metal pipe, said to be suspect Dylan Bird, threatening an RCMP member during a Nov. 23 arrest on the Kainai Nation. (supplied: RCMP)
Members of the Blood Tribe gathered in protest outside the RCMP detachment in Cardston on Monday, seeking answers about the arrest of 27-year-old Dylan Riley Bird.
“He's epileptic, he was born with a piece of his skull missing so he has a plate, I think he was scared, he was trying to protect himself. He didn't know what was going on and he was scared and he reacted,” said Bird’s uncle, Ronald Panther Bone.
Protest organizer Melissa Prairie Chicken said the event was to draw attention to police brutality.
"They shouldn’t be doing that. It’s bad," she said. "Just because they have the authority doesn’t mean they have the authority to beat on us."
Bird was walking down the street last week when an RCMP officer attempted to arrest him for outstanding warrants on charges of uttering threats, criminal harassment and mischief.
According to police, Bird was holding a metal pipe, which he used to hit an officer as he was being arrested, causing minor injuries.
That's when the officer used a conducted energy weapon on Bird, twice, and he was detained.
"Both the first and second deployments of the conducted energy weapon were unsuccessful in gaining control of the subject," said Cardston RCMP Sgt. Robert Wright in a video statement. "The officer called for assistance and a nearby officer immediately attended the location to assist in the suspect's arrest.”
Bird, a member of the Kainai Nation, faces new charges related to:
- Two counts of assaulting a peace officer causing bodily harm;
- Assaulting a peace officer;
- Obstruction; and.
- Failing to comply with a release order.
The RCMP notified the director of law enforcement, as required by law, but he deemed the incident out of scope and did not direct the province's police watchdog to investigate. Mounties are now conducting an internal review.
“The Alberta RCMP believe in processes that seek the facts and it’s important that processes taken to assess the actions of all those involved, including the police, are fair, transparent, and defendable,” said Wright.
But that process isn't sitting well with Blood Tribe members.
“We’ve been going through this all our lives and it should stop. They're supposed to be protecting us, not brutalizing us,” said Panther Bone.
The group met at a local gas station before walking down Main Street to the RCMP detachment. Blood Tribe members who attended Monday’s protest say they’re concerned about stereotyping. Panther Bone says he’s experienced it first-hand.
“They see one native doing something bad they automatically drive by, we're all like that. That native steals, that's the way they think we are,” said Panther Bone.
Bird has been released from custody ahead of his scheduled Dec. 13 court appearance in Cardston.
With files from CTV Lethbridge's Karsen Marczuk
The original version of this story, and its headline, indicated the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT) had either launched an investigation into, or declined to investigate, the arrest of Dylan Bird. RCMP did not consult ASIRT on this matter as it was deemed 'out of scope' for the watchdog agency.