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Civil Liberties questioning RCMP conduct

The B.C. Civil LIberties Association has filed a complaint against the Kelowna RCMP officers involved in the arrest of Buddy Tavares and has also initiated a complaint about the RCMP’s release of information to the media about the incident earlier this month.

On Jan. 7, Buddy Tavares was arrested by Kelowna RCMP who were dealing with a call of shots fired at the Harvest Golf Club.

During that arrest, Const. Geoff Mantler kicked the 51-year-old in the face as he was on his hands and knees and is currently suspended with pay as he faces criminal and internal investigations.

Tavares, meanwhile, was charged with careless use of a firearm and spent the weekend following his arrest in custody.

Police later said the charge was related to a “domestic violence situation” and now the BCCLA is asking to file a conduct complaint against Supt. Bill McKinnon, Const. Steve Holmes and any others involved in the release of that information.

In a letter, BCCLA executive director David Eby notes that Tavares and his family claim the allegations are without merit and that Tavares does not face any domestic violence-related charges.

“Given the potential impact on an individual’s reputation in his or her community, the RCMP should use extreme caution in releasing information to the media, especially if the information has not been investigated and verified as best as possible and there is little or no public interest in releasing the information,” wrote Eby.

“This caution about public release of information is especially important when the RCMP considers releasing information about members of the public who have filed complaints about allegations of RCMP misconduct or who are at the centre of allegations of RCMP misconduct.”

“Casting aspersions on any person complaining about RCMP members could easily be seen to be a form of retribution for filing a complaint, or as a form of character smearing engaged in to improve public perceptions of the police version of events,” Eby wrote.

The BCCLA, in its letter to the Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP, asked that it be investigated whether misconduct was committed by releasing inaccurate, unverified or misleading information and whether misconduct was committed by releasing accurate information inappropriately or contrary to policy.

McKinnon said Monday that information came out as a result of a media question at a press conference. He said he was not suggesting that an assault or violence took place, but that information they had led to the incident being categorized as a domestic violence situation.

“I’m sure it will all come out as court proceedings begin,” he said.

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