THUNDER BAY -- The Thunder Bay Police Association leadership says they are outraged at comments made by Nishnawbe Aski Nation Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler in the wake of a video posted to social media that allegedly shows an officer striking an Indigenous teen strapped to a medical gurney.
The association, in a release issued to media on Wednesday night, defended the officer, who has been taken off duty and is taking medication for precautionary health reasons following the incident, which took place this past Saturday night.
"We are confident that our member will be vindicated once the investigation is concluded," the unsigned release states.
"Mr. Fiddler continues to try to drive a wedge between the community and the members of the TBPA. Mr. Fiddler rushes to judge and accuse our members of wrongdoing when in his own words, 'We do not know all of the details that led to this incident.'"
The release goes on to say the union stands behind its membership who are struggling with high-volume calls, violent crime, lack of funding, low morale and low manpower.
"This is not an isolated incident for our members of the TBPA. Our members are consistently dealing with individuals who show increasing violence, aggressive attitudes and lack of respect toward police and all first responders."
In the video, the officer accuses the victim of spitting on her and it appears she hits the teen, a Nibinamik First Nation student attending the Matawa Learning Centre in Thunder Bay.
Police were responding to a call at a city residence where there had been a report of a woman being injured. The teen seen in the video is believed to have also been at the house.
The video has sparked outrage and made national news.
Fiddler, in a release issued earlier this week, said he was outraged at the actions of the officer depicted in the video, adding "there is no justification for such violent and callous treatment of a youth in such a defenceless position."
Meanwhile, Thunder Bay Police and the Thunder Bay Police Services Board are under separate investigations and the former facing charges of long-standing systemic racism within the department.
Police have said they will conduct their internal investigation into the incident, despite being asked by Indigenous leaders to have a third party complete the task.