A Vernon man charged with assaulting three police officers during an altercation has pleaded not guilty.
Kyle Larue, 27, entered his first day of trial at the Vernon Law Courts on Thursday. He was charged with assaulting a peace officer, taking or attempting to take the weapon of a peace officer, assault with intent to resist arrest, wilfully resisting or obstructing a peace officer and two counts of possessing a weapon for a dangerous purpose. He has pleaded not guilty to all six charges.
The charges stem from a November 2018 incident, after Vernon RCMP responded to an unwanted person at the Wholesale Club on 34 Street. Police attempted to arrest the man who allegedly produced a can of bear spray and a meat cleaver before more officers arrived on scene.
Judge Richard Hewson heard the witness testimony of Const. Robert Iles, the RCMP officer who responded to the incident last fall. Const. Iles said upon arriving to the location, he noticed Larue lying on the ground next to a pile of clothing and other possessions.
When Const. Iles asked Larue to stand and identify himself, he refused. When he did eventually stand, Const. Iles said Larue stood about eight inches from his face and, with clenched teeth said, “My name is Kyle Larue, now f*** off.”
According to Const. Iles, Larue raised his arms as if to throw a punch. The officer caught his arm in one hand and grabbed his radio to call for backup with the other, just as Larue allegedly produced a can of bear spray and pulled the safety.
Const. Iles said once he noticed the bear spray, he delivered a punch to Larue’s face. A scrum ensued. Const. Iles said Larue dropped the bear spray and grabbed the handle of a meat cleaver that was tucked inside his jacket pocket.
Const. Iles estimated there were about 100 people in the Wholesale Club parking lot at time. At one point, he said, a woman picked up the discarded can of bear spray.
According to Const. Iles, he later felt Larue’s hand tugging on his gun, at which point he twisted around and pinned him to a tree. Two more RCMP officers arrived to assist with the arrest. Const. Iles’s said his hand was cut down to the knuckle while restraining the suspect and he was off duty for three months due to the injury.
Defence lawyer Tiffany Zanatta questioned Const. Iles after his testimony, calling into question whether Larue had stood as close as eight inches to him at the start of the altercation and whether Iles knew with certainty that Larue had been attempting to grab his firearm.
Larue showed signs of distress throughout the trial, stifling tears and asking for water multiple times.
Larue was first set to appear for his trial on Aug. 30, 2019, but failed to show up, which led to police issuing a warrant for his arrest. Larue was escorted to the courtroom wearing a red shirt and pants, his hands bound by handcuffs.
Both the can of bear spray and the meat cleaver were submitted as evidence.