Mantler review to pursue assault complaint

The Kelowna Mountie increasingly notorious for acts of brutality in the line of duty won’t see a third assault charge materialize from an allegation of excessive force, but that doesn’t mean he’ll get off scot-free either.

Supt. Bill McKinnon announced Thursday that he believed Const. Geoff Mantler is “51 per cent at fault” in the incident where he allegedly punched repo-man Jeremy Packer in the head, while arresting him for a theft he was never subsequently charged with.

As such, the case is among “three allegations of disgraceful conduct” that McKinnon said should be dealt with at an RCMP disciplinary hearing.

The findings of that hearing could amount to Mantler either losing his job, being demoted, or facing a 10-day suspension, without pay, for each count.

It’s a departure from Crown counsel’s decision not to pursue charges in the Packer complaint, citing there was “no substantial likelihood of conviction.”

But McKinnon explained the two have different mandates.

“You may wonder why I would find the actions of Const. Mantler to be disgraceful in the Jeremy Packer incident when Crown counsel has not approved pressing charges,” McKinnon said.

“The RCMP code of conduct and the Criminal Code of Canada have two very different standards when it comes to finding an outcome.

“The Criminal Code is based on the premise of reasonable doubt, whereas the code of conduct is based on the balance of probability.”

It wasn’t until reviewing all the facts that McKinnon found the majority of fault to lie with Mantler.

That’s when he sent his summary of the information at hand to the province’s top cop, who will ultimately decide if the disciplinary hearing will be held.

“We don’t have control over what happens on the criminal side, but we can hold our employees accountable when they fall short of meeting our service delivery standard,” he said.

Packer, 30, initiated the complaint to the RCMP in November, alleging he had been assaulted by a police officer on the Bennett Bridge Aug.10, 2010, while driving a repossessed boat back to his employer.

In an interview in January, Packer alleged he was arrested at gunpoint by officers who were told the boat had been stolen.

One, he alleged, punched him in the head while he was being pulled out of the truck.

He then claimed he was punched at least two more times in the head while on the ground.

At the time of those two punches, he said his hands were behind his back and he was not resisting. He was never charged with a criminal offence following the incident, and suffered abrasions, road rash and a black eye, in addition to losing a tooth.

Meantime, Mantler is still suspended with pay  and awaiting an April 26 court date for two other charges that Crown Counsel approved.

One stems from an August incident involving Manjit Singh Bhatti but the details of that case have not been released.

The other the highly publicized Buddy Tavares case where Mantler was caught on video kicking the man in the head, while he was on the ground submitting to arrest.

It sparked a public outcry that’s continued to follow the Mounties for months.