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Kelowna Mountie caught kicking man on video will face charges

RCMP deputy-commissioner Peter Hourihan speaking to the media this afternoon at the Kelowna detachment.  - Sean Connor
RCMP deputy-commissioner Peter Hourihan speaking to the media this afternoon at the Kelowna detachment.
— image credit: Sean Connor

The  Mountie who gained national attention for kicking Kelowna resident Buddy Tavares in the face has been charged with two counts of assault causing bodily harm, while action on a third complaint of excessive force awaits.

Peter Hourihan, the RCMP's deputy commissioner, made the announcement that Crown Counsel approved charges against Const. Geoff Mantler in Kelowna this afternoon, noting that he realized  action on the matter was "extremely important to British Columbians" and, in particular, area residents.

Since the Jan. 7 incident, where Mantler was filmed kicking Tavares in the head while he was on all fours, there's been a widespread call for charges to be levied, in the forms of public protest and commentary. But it appears as though the Mountie's issues with excessive force actually pre-date that confrontation.

"There were two incidents that had occurred (with Mantler) when the Tavares incident occurred," Hourihan said.

The first complaint of excessive force resulting in a charge was made  Aug. 30, 2010 and Hourihan refused to offer any details. Court records indicate the alleged victim in that case is Manjeet Singh Bhatti.

Jeremy Packer's recently publicized complaint for an alleged Aug. 10, 2010 incident wasn't accepted for investigation until after the Tavares case became public. In that situation Packer was pulled over under suspicion of theft of a boat he had actually just repossessed, and he's claimed Mantler punched him in the head during the arrest.

Overall, the alleged violence surrounding these arrests haven't earned the Mounties much praise and Hourihan admits they have been a "black eye" on the police.

"This type of behaviour, if substantiated in court, or in our internal code of conduct, is extremely concerning for me," he said. "It's disappointing at a very minimum and it's behaviour that falls well short of any expectations that I or any officers have."

That said, police are oftentimes in the throes of stressful situations and those kinds of interactions can lead to conflict, he said, explaining why Const. Mantler was still working as a police officer after complaints against him were lodged.

"It happens, but it's not very common based on the number of interactions with the number of people," he said.

Mantler has been suspended with pay, which is also an issue that's gained a great deal of attention. That, however, could come to an end in the near future.

"Our process  requires that they get suspended with pay," he said, noting a determination as to whether that will continue  "will be made fairly shortly."

Mantler is scheduled to make an appearance on both charges in provincial court on April. 26.

The charge assessment review of these two investigative reports was conducted in the Kamloops Regional Crown Counsel office.

 

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