Four witnesses took the stand in a Kelowna provincial court on Tuesday, during the first day of the trial for assault charges against Const. Siggy Emmett-Steven Pietrzak.
Pietrzak was charged with assault in April 2021 after a May 30, 2020 incident where the accused allegedly punched a man being placed under arrest in downtown Kelowna.
The claimant, Tyler Russell, has filed a civil lawsuit against Pietrzak. The Attorney General of Canada, also named in that lawsuit, denied Pietrzak used excessive force.
Const. Jacqualine Davidson took the stand to recount the events leading up to the alleged assault. On the day of the incident, Davidson was dispatched to investigate a call about a man that appeared intoxicated walking around a parking lot. When Davidson arrived on the scene the man, Russell, was sitting in the passenger seat of a white truck.
After speaking to Russell, Davidson concluded that he had committed no crimes and unless he drove the truck, was not a threat.
Const. David Carter then arrived on the scene and offered to park nearby and watch Russell in the truck to ensure he did not drive the vehicle. Davidson agreed and then left the scene.
Carter took the stand to recount his version of events that occurred after Davidson left.
He said that after approximately 40 minutes, Russell moved into the drivers seat. At this time Carter said he approached the vehicle and instructed the complainant to exit the truck under the suspicion of impaired driving.
Carter said that he had called for backup once Russell exited the vehicle and the situation began to “escalate.”
Carter claimed that the complainant “raised his voice” while Carter was attempting to give him instructions. He also stated that Russell refused to walk to the police vehicle for a breathalyzer test and was repeatedly asking to speak to his lawyer.
At this time, Carter said that he verbally arrested Russell for obstruction of justice.
Carter then attempted to handcuff the complainant and a struggle ensued. Carter testified that another officer, Const. Donahue, arrived to assist him.
Carter claimed he and the other officer “were losing” in the struggle with Russell when Pietrzak arrived on the scene and ran towards them.
“He used closed hand strikes to Mr. Russell’s face,” said Carter.
Carter said that while Russell’s face was being struck, he started bleeding. He went on to say that Russell never hit, kicked or injured him or any of the other officers.
“He just said that he would not go to the ground.”
Two witnesses who took videos of the event took the stand in court today and both testified that they witnessed Pietrzak punching the complainant multiple times.
Witness Tyson Gillies was at Kelly O’Briens at the time of the incident and recorded the arrest on his cell phone.
He testified that he watched an officer, “striking the civilian” multiple times.
Gillies said that he noted blood on the face of the civilian.
Carter stated that after the arrest, the vehicle and Russell were searched and no key to operate the vehicle was found.
The trial is expected to continue this week and then for two days in June.