OPP investigates alleged police attack on First Nation man captured on video | TBEN News

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A non-First Nations officer with a First Nations-focused police force is under investigation by the Ontario Provincial Police following an alleged attack captured on cell phone video, TBEN News has learned.

Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) confirmed to TBEN News that Nishnawbe Aski Police (NAPS) had asked it to investigate the alleged attack, which took place in Slate Falls First Nation in late August. Slate Fall First Nations Chief Lorraine Crane said she was informed by the NAPS leadership that the agency had asked the OPP to conduct the outside investigation.

The video of the alleged attack was shocking to watch, Crane said.

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“It really bothered me when they showed me the recording… It was really hard for me as a leader to see that.”

TBEN News got three videos of the incident on the night of August 30, which appear to show a NAPS officer shoving a 24-year-old man into the side of a police pickup truck as he tried to handcuff him. to beat. The officer suddenly hits the back of the man’s head, which seems to bounce off the side of the truck.

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The man, James Masakeyash, then slumps face down to the ground and lies still, according to the videos.

“He lined me up and hit me and put me on the ground. I don’t remember what happened after that,” Masakeyash said in an interview with TBEN News.

WATCH: Mobile video captures alleged police attack:

OPP investigates alleged assault by First Nation police officer

An officer with a First Nation-focused police force is under investigation by the Ontario Provincial Police following an alleged attack captured on cell phone video. The video shot in Slate Falls First Nation shows the officer hitting a man on the head.

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Masakeyash said that when he came to, it was morning and he was in a cell.

He’s coming forward with his story because he doesn’t want this to happen to anyone else, he said.

NAPS Police Chief Roland Morrison said he was unable to comment on the matter to avoid compromising the ongoing process.

“We are aware of the video, we have communicated with the First Nation leadership how we will handle it,” Morrison said.

James Masakeyash, 24, says he can't remember what happened after the officer hit him on the back of the head with the police vehicle.
James Masakeyash, 24, says he can’t remember what happened after the officer hit him on the back of the head with the police vehicle. (Provided by Miriam Cook)

Video shows alleged victim who does not resist

Morrison said the officer is currently on a scheduled hiatus and was not part of the regular contingent in the detachment in Slate Falls, an Ojibway community about 400 miles northeast of Kenora, Ont.

NAPS patrols 34 First Nations in northern Ontario – from the Manitoba border to the western coast of James Bay. In 2020, the force had 203 officers, about 60 percent of them native, according to the Canadian Press.

The three videos delivered to TBEN News together last nearly four minutes and were filmed by a close acquaintance of Masakeyash and his family. The first video begins with the officer, off-screen, yelling at Masakeyash, who appears to be intoxicated, to “get up”, that he “treated you last night” and that he would drag him by the ankles.

Masakeyash then falls and trips over his pants, which hung down his legs. Masakeyash, who was initially uncuffed, struggles to pull up his pants as the officer scolds him, according to the video.

“Get up, I’ll drag you,” said the officer. “Stand up.”

It ends with Masakeyash finally pulling himself to his feet and stumbling forward toward the police pickup truck idling with its headlights on.

The second video continues with Masakeyash facing the side of the police truck with the officer behind him, trying to handcuff him. The officer then punches the back of Masakeyash’s head and then throws him face down on the ground.

The third video, lasting 53 seconds, shows the officer handcuffing Masakeyash, who is lying on the ground and appears not to move. It ends with the officer standing over the 24-year-old.

Miriam Cook says the NAPS officer should have been suspended immediately pending the outcome of the investigation.
Masakeyash’s sister, Miriam Cook, says the NAPS officer should have been suspended immediately pending the outcome of the investigation. (Miriam Kok)

“You can see where he hits the truck and he gets thrown to the ground,” said Miriam Cook, Masakeyash’s sister, who is also a nurse and entrepreneur.

“You can see my brother didn’t resist his arrest… It upset me, I was very angry and hurt watching the video.”

Cook said she took Masakeyash to her home in Thunder Bay to take him to a doctor and check for symptoms of a concussion. The officer should have been suspended immediately pending the outcome of an investigation, Cook added.

‘He had no reason at all’

James Masakeyash, 24, suffered facial injuries after an incident involving a Nishnawbe Aski Police Officer, now under investigation by Ontario Provincial Police.
Masakeyash suffered facial injuries after an incident involving a Nishnawbe Aski Police Officer, now under investigation by Ontario Provincial Police. (TBEN news)

Adam Carpenter said that Masakeyash was at his house that night and that his family called the police to make sure he got home safely. Carpenter said the usual NAPS agents in the community will help people get home without incident if they’ve had too much to drink.

“We called, we asked them to escort James home because he was drunk,” said Carpenter, 18.

‘Usually the agents are friendly people who help us. That was not the case this time,” said Carpenter. “[The officer] was aggressive, he was really mean, he screamed a lot that night.”

Ivan Cook, 64, Masakeyash’s adoptive father, said he spoke to the NAPS officer the next day and took notes of the conversation. He said the officer claimed he punched Masakeyash for reaching for his police pistol – something that is not clear in the video.

He said he told the officer that Masakeyash is not the type of person to get aggressive in those situations.

“I still feel a little mad at that cop…I don’t think they were trained for that…He had no reason to do that at all.”