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Bystanders testify in Mantler trial
A former police officer who witnessed Const. Geoff Mantler pull over Buddy Tavares' truck said the officer seemed "jacked up" when he got out of his car to deal with Tavares.
Mantler is accused of assault causing bodily harm in connection with the kick he delivered to Tavares' head during Tavares' arrest on Jan. 7, 2011.
Police were responding to a shots fired complaint when they pulled Tavares over; they later learned he had been shooting at geese at the Harvest Golf Club.
Grant Wereley, 64, was pulling out of the parking lot of Lakeview Market when he heard sirens and then noticed Tavares' pickup pull over and Mantler's unmarked police cruiser move in behind.
Wereley said Mantler had "difficulty" putting the car into park and was "fumbling" around the dashboard in a failed attempt to turn off his siren.
"That indicated to me right there he was pretty jacked up," said Wereley.
Mantler then made "quick movements" to the front of his vehicle and had his gun pointed at the truck.
He told Tavares to get out of the truck "two or three" times.
When Const. Robyn Boffy arrived--Wereley wasn't sure Mantler knew she was there--Mantler then began walking along the driver's side of the truck and Wereley watched under the carriage of the truck to see what would happen next.
He said there was "no reaction at all" from the driver at first. The driver eventually got out of the truck.
Wereley said Mantler said "get on the ground or words to that effect" two or three times and Tavares got on his knees, bending his torso toward the asphalt.
Wereley testified he saw Mantler's leg go up, and Boffy begin to go around the truck.
He did not see Mantler kick Tavares.
Bus driver Gary Dunn was at the light at KLO and Pandosy Street and said Mantler kicked Tavares in the head while Tavares was on his hands and knees.
"Did you see any sudden movements from him?" asked Crown counsel William Burrows.
"No," said Dunn.
Debbie Murphy, who was on Interior Savings' balcony, also didn't see any sudden or threatening movements from Tavares and described the sound of the kick as "sickening."
"There was blood right away," she said.
She also testified Tavares was on his hands and knees when the kick happened.
Another witness, Patrician Richter, recalled the kick happening when Tavares was on his knees with his hands up.
She also testified she didn't see Tavares do anything that could be interpreted as threatening and said it seemed like Tavares was "complying" with police, "cautiously trying not to make a move."
She added that Mantler was "walking briskly" after initially getting out of his car, but then slowed down before approaching the truck.
"It appeared he was waiting for backup," she said.
The Crown is expected to wrap up its case Wednesday. Mantler may testify in his own defence.