The Independent Investigations Office of BC (IIO) recently reviewed an arrest made in Penticton in 2018 after a driver alleged he was seriously injured during an unlawful arrest. The man alleged he was “slammed” to the ground by the officer when he went to pick his wallet off of the ground, but footage from the officer’s dash cam tells a different story of the situation. (File Photo)

Officers’ use of force in Penticton arrest that injured a male driver deemed necessary: Watchdog

IIO reviewed the incident after the driver alleged he was “slammed” to the ground by an officer

The Independent Investigations Office of BC (IIO) has deemed officers in Penticton that injured a male during an arrest at a traffic stop in August 2018 acted accordingly to the situation.

The investigation into the incident arose after the arrested male sent a letter to the IIO in May 2019 alleging that he was “seriously injured in the course of an unlawful arrest by RCMP officers” in Penticton in August 17, 2018, when he was pulled over by an RCMP officer.

“He said that when he got out of his vehicle and went to the police car to ask for the reason for the stop, he was taken by the arm and marched back to his vehicle. When he resisted, he said he was told he was under arrest for assaulting a peace officer,” states the report, which was released on Dec. 10.

“He said that when he bent to retrieve his wallet, which had been knocked form his hand, the officer ‘slammed’ him to the ground. Finally, he said another officer had used knee strikes against him while he was handcuffed. (The man) said his injuries included broken and displaced ribs, a collapsed lung, abrasions and soreness.”

The IIO reported that evidence collected by civilian and officer witness accounts, audio and dash cam footage, and a number of other sources tells a different story of how the situation unfolded.

The report states the incident started when the male paused at the drive-thru of a Tim Hortons in the city to allow the officer out into traffic, but when he did not immediately take the opportunity the man drove on and, “made some sort of hand gestures to towards (the officer) as he did so (the man described having gestured with both hands to say ‘what if?’).”

The officer decided to pull the driver over shortly after to determine if he was in distress due to the ambiguous signal, and dash cam footage from the officer’s car shows that the officer exited his vehicle and approached the driver’s window where he had a short conversation with him before getting back into his police cruiser with the driver’s licence.

“(The officer) told IIO investigator that (the man) had been yelling angrily at him throughout their interaction. A few seconds later, (the driver) exited his vehicle and walks back towards the police vehicle,” states the report.

“He can be seen to be a large, strongly-built individual, and his body language is very assertive, if not aggressive. Despite being told to go back to his car, (the driver) continues to approach, asking loudly why he had been stopped. Audio from the police dashcam includes the officer saying ‘I’m stopping you because it looked like you were in distress. Get back in your vehicle.’”

The report goes on to state the driver did not return to his vehicle and the officer exited the police cruiser to talk with him, though this takes place out of view of the police dashcam.

The audio recording captures the driver saying “Get your hands off me!” before the driver can be seen being “pushed down towards the front of the police vehicle with one of the officer’s hands on the driver’s right arm, and the other on the back of the driver’s neck.”

At this point, it appears in the footage that the driver loses his balance and both he and the officer fall to the ground, with the officer landing either on top of or beside the driver.

When the officer stood back up, his chest-mounted radio handset can be seen dangling, and as the driver stood up, the officer can be seen attempting to control him by holding onto his shirt and right arm.

“The driver is actively resisting (at this point), saying ‘Get your hands off me!’ and ‘No, I’m not under arrest!’ At this point, while still engaged face to face with the driver, the officer places his radio handset in its chest holder and an alert tone can be heard over the police radio,” states the report.

The report says the alert signalled that the officer needed assistance, but it appeared to be activated accidentally as the officer can be heard subsequently apologizing for it on the radio dispatch channel.

The officer recounted to IIO that at this point of the incident, he was trying to de-escalate the situation, “which is consistent with his demeanour on the video.”

The driver then bends and retrieves his wallet, and the report highlights that no interference from the officer can be seen and the driver was not slammed to the ground by the officer.

A call then came from the dispatch channel requesting assistance at the arresting officer’s location, while the arresting officer tries to hold the driver against the back of his vehicle “evidently trying to effect an arrest.”

The driver and officer then appear to stumble sideways, with the officer taking the driver down onto the sidewalk with the responding officer arriving a few seconds later.

READ MORE: No negligence in RCMP actions in B.C. teen’s overdose death: Watchdog

Civilians tried to aide the arresting officer in subduing the driver when the responding officer joined in, with dashcam footage showing the second officer “trying to control the driver’s arms before delivering a knee strike to the driver’s chest or abdomen, following which the driver can be heard yelling in pain.”

Once the officers bring the driver to his feet and secure his wrist in handcuffs, there is no futher resistance or use of force, and from there the driver is transported to cells and “subsequently taken to hospital where he was diagnosed with fractures of the fourth and fifth ribs on his left side.”

The report concludes that it was lawful and reasonable for the officer to “exercise the broad powers provided to peace officers under the Motor Vehicle Act to detain a motorist briefly for purposes of ensuring safety, compliance with regulations, etc.”

It goes on to say it was also lawful and reasonable for the officer to request the driver remain in his vehicle for both of their safety, and this refusal led to a physical confrontation when both men fell to the ground.

The report states that the second time the pair fell, it appears to have been an intentional take down “but there is no evidence to support the driver’s allegation that he was ‘slammed’ to the ground while trying to pick up his wallet.”

It also adds that because the responding officer had no way of knowing the request for assistance alert, which is considered the most urgent call for backup, was issued accidentally and the single knee strike he delivered to the driver was reasonable and not excessive.

READ MORE: Independent Investigations Office seeks witnesses following arrest in Penticton

“The unfortunate reality of this situation is that the driver turned what started as a routine traffic stop into a physical confrontation. His decision to leave his car, and then continually refuse to follow directions from a police officer , resulted in force having to be used against him,” states the report.

“In that regard, the force used by each officer was only what was necessary, which ended as soon as the driver’s resistance ended.”

The report does not state whether the driver was charged as a result of this incident.

To report a typo, email: editor@pentictonwesternnews.com.

Jordyn Thomson | Reporter
JordynThomson 
Send Jordyn Thomson an email.
Like the Western News on Facebook.
Follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

$500 fine for Vernon man caught near Coldstream playground

Richard Slobodian, 58, served one night in jail and ordered to pay for breaching probation

Vernon firefighters showcase new rescue equipment

New tools helping VFRS make safer, swifter and more versatile rescue operations

House arrest for Vernon physiotherapist guilty of sexual assault

Stephen Witvoet to serve 18-month conditional sentencing following July 8 hearing

Bike parks open at Vernon’s SilverStar Mountain Resort

The resort is also reopening spa, rental, retail and some restaurant services

Classical music festival going ahead in Vernon, Kelowna

The fifth annual Vernon Proms Classical Music Festival has modified programming to keep people safe

B.C. identifies 20 new COVID-19 cases, travellers specified in count

Pandemic total 3,028 cases, 51 people from outside Canada

Canadian policing organization calls for decriminalization of simple illicit drug possession

Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police want policing focus of opioid crisis to be replaced with a health one

Motorcycle rider seriously injured in collision with vehicle on Highway 97 west of Pritchard

Chase RCMP report that motorcycle was attempting to pass when crash occurred

Predator mutilated cats in Kelowna: BC SPCA

The BC SPCA confirmed a mutilated cat was killed by a predator

LETTER: Former Summerland mayors speak out on solar project

Five former Summerland mayors sign name to short letter

Emergency crews conduct CPR on unresponsive person in Okanagan Lake

West Kelowna emergency crews are on scene at the shores of Jubilee Mobile Home Park

Filing deadline in RCMP sexual-harassment class-action extended due to COVID-19

Plaintiffs now have until January 2021 to submit claims for up to $222,000

Jamie Bacon pleads guilty to charge in Surrey Six case

The plea brings an end to a complex legal case that has spanned more than a decade

Summerland Museum reopens

Museum to open on July 15 with reduced operating hours

Most Read