Protester Darin Howard speaks to the crowd gathered outside the Kelowna RCMP detachment on Sunday to protest how Buddy Tavares was treated when he was arrested on Jan. 7. Just before the protest rally

Kelowna cop may face assault charges

Abbotsford Police are currently working on their report to Crown counsel, asking that the prosecutor’s office charge Kelowna RCMP Const. Geoff Mantler with assault causing bodily harm for his actions during the Jan. 7 arrest of Buddy Tavares.

The announcement of the pending recommendation came just an hour before a rally planned by people behind a Facebook page calling for the officer to be charged with assault got underway in Kelowna Sunday afternoon.

“It’s the right call,” said rally organizer John Hewitson of the announcement of a potential charge, later calling the announcement a “win” for the group who attended the rally.

And while the focus on seeing charges against the officer was an impetus for the rally, Hewitson said other changes need to be made.

He suggested police cars need to be outfitted with dash cameras and officers with wireless mics so that all potential incidents are captured on tape. He also called for an end to police investigating themselves. “People are sick and tired of this going on,” he said. “Police forces should not be investigating police forces.” Hewitson also called into question the practice that officers are suspended with pay while under investigation, saying taxpayers are currently paying $1.3 million for officers under suspension. “Why should we have to pay for that?” he asked.

The rally brought out an estimated 375 people, many carrying placards saying things like: “Police get paid for crime,” “RCMP to serve and protect—not kick them while they’re down” and “Stop the abuse.” The crowd marched from City Park to the RCMP detachment on Doyle Avenue, which was shut down for a block to accommodate the crowd. Police were on hand for the road closure and to watch the crowd, and one officer was seen on the roof, filming the group as they jeered at her.

Also at the rally was the man whose arrest prompted the event—Buddy Tavares.

Tavares said he attended the rally after receiving “an incredible amount” of phone calls and Facebook and email messages. “It’s to support everyone else who is supporting me,” said Tavares, noting his isn’t the only case of someone who has tangled with the RCMP.

Tavares, a Harvest Golf Club employee on disability following a motorcycle crash last summer, was arrested on KLO Road on Jan. 7 after someone reported a man with a gun on the golf course grounds. Police later received reports of shots fired.

Tavares said he was there to shoot at the geese, as he always did when he was actively working at the golf course. When he saw police that morning, he pulled over, assuming the officer would pass him, but instead found himself staring at the barrel of a police gun.

The arrest was captured on video and the images show Tavares on his hands and knees when Const. Mantler kicked him in the head. Tavares said the kick has set him back “months” in his recovery from the car accident. He has loose teeth, a constant headache and his bruised and bloody eye is healing. He also says he is still “wobbly.”

Still, despite the experience, Tavares said his view of police in general hasn’t changed. “He’s (Geoff Mantler) put a serious blemish on the police and, seriously, I don’t believe they deserve it,” said Tavares as protesters marched to the RCMP detachment.

He hopes the outcome of the rally will lead to police “cleaning house.” “You get a box of apples and one’s rotten, you throw it in the garbage,” said Tavares, applying the fruit analogy to the RCMP organization. “The rest are good. You don’t, you know, throw the whole thing out.”

Mantler has been suspended with pay since Jan. 10 and is subject to an internal code of conduct investigation for his actions Jan. 7, in addition to the criminal probe by Abbotsford Police. Tavares is facing a charge of careless use of a firearm.

Just Posted

Historic grad ceremony for Westbank First Nation technicians

14 Indigenous workers become first public works technicians in B.C.

Former Kelowna councillor and radio talk show host Barrie Clark dies

Clark remembered as a fair-minded ‘statesman’ who saw the big picture when it came to Kelowna

Missing Kelowna woman found

Christine Olsen-Meissnitzer has been located

More than $270,000 raised for Kelowna-based hospice

10th Swinging with the Stars fundraiser for the Central Okanagan Hospice Assoc. is a big success

Getting into the swing of spring

Kelowna garden shop is busy now that spring has finally arrived

Wilkie returns home with three medals in tow

Paralympic champion returns home with a gold, silver and bronze from the 2018 PyeongChang games

Golden Knights win 4-1, remain undefeated against Canucks

Vegas gets points from 12 players in dominating effort versus Vancouver

Alberta budget plans for Trans Mountain expansion

Finance Minister Joe Ceci says expected revenues will be factored into budget forecasts

Parents respond to suicide alertness workshops

SafeTalk session discusses recognition and intervention awareness

Proposed gun bill attacked by gun owners and shooting victims

The federal government tabled the bill today in order to tighten the sale and tracking of firearms

New anti-radicalization centre in the works for B.C.

Centre aims to help ‘vulnerable individuals on the path to radicalization’ before they turn to crime

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

B.C. bravery, public service honoured by Governor General Julie Payette

UVic basketball coach Kathryn Shields inducted into Order of Canada

Most Read