Buddy Tavares is hoping life will return to normal—and it all seems within the realm of possibility now that legal battles have been squared away and formal apologies issued.
“I’m going back to Mexico…I’ll be back in six weeks,” the Kelowna man told a group of reporters outside the courthouse where a Crown prosecutor had just announced his office was dropping the charge of careless use of a firearm, due to insufficient evidence to get a guilty verdict.
Tavares, who became a rallying point for an outcry against Mountie misconduct Jan. 7 after he was kicked in the face while submitting to arrest, conceded to a firearms ban for the next 18 months at the same sitting.
It was the second dose of good news he received that day. Earlier in the morning B.C.’s top cop made the unusual move of flying into Kelowna to meet with the 51-year-old Tavares and apologize.
“I’m the commanding officer for B.C. At times when there’s (an) incident of this serious nature, it demands attention from the very highest level,” said RCMP Deputy Commissioner Peter Hourihan.
Tavares, who said the two sat down for a coffee, said he was satisfied with the meeting. “How many people does (deputy commissioner) fly in to meet?” he said. “It was good.”
While the circumstances of the apology are unusual, so too has been the Tavares case in the way it captured the attention of the country.
Video of Const. Geoff Mantler kicking him in the head while he was submitting to arrest went viral through YouTube, hours after the incident occurred. In no time a Facebook group was formed and thousands of Canadians weighed in on what transpired.
Ensuing public outrage prompted two rallies that have dealt with the topic of police brutality.
Tavares has been grateful for the video footage used in the public outcry as he believes “he wouldn’t have a hope” if the lens hadn’t panned his way.
But he also pointed out that everything that’s happened has set him back on a path to recovery he was embarking on, long before Mantler delivered the blow.
A motorcycle accident had left him with a brain injury as well as numerous broken bones, and at the time of his arrest he was still healing.
“I’m getting better, still seeing doctors, but of course I’m still feeling the effect…it was a setback,” he said.
By the estimates of Jenny Manning, her stepdad is looking better after a recent trip to Mexico, but more time away from all the attention can only help as he’s often “overwhelmed” by the attention.
“It’s hard for him to go out and get groceries now,” she said.
“He just wants to have his life back…get back to playing the piano, and heal. (All the attention) makes the process harder.”
Running concurrent to the charge that Tavares picked up after he was arrested for firing off rounds at the Harvest Golf Club, are concerns over Const. Geoff Mantler’s status.
He’s been suspended with pay and an investigation by the Abbotsford police indicated charges should be brought forward. Crown is currently reviewing the file.
Nor has any information revealed why Supt. Bill McKinnon said Tavares’ former criminal charge was related to a domestic violence situation.
For that the B.C. Civil Liberties Association has filed complaints with the Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP, accusing McKinnon and spokesperson Const. Steve Holmes of setting the stage for a smear campaign.
Tavares has yet to decide whether he’ll pursue seeking remuneration for damages through a civil suit.