A lawsuit filed against RCMP is giving more details about what allegedly transpired during a shocking arrest in downtown Kelowna at the end of May.
Tyler Russell is a Kelowna glass fitter who was sitting in the passenger seat of his work vehicle in downtown Kelowna on May 30, according to the civil suit.
He was approached by two RCMP officers, and they asked that he step out of the vehicle and provide a breath sample, according to court documents, but he refused because he wasn’t driving or in control of the vehicle as he had no car keys.
“The plaintiff did not see a reason to get out of the vehicle as he was not in any violation of any Criminal Code offences or any Kelowna city bylaws,” the lawsuit claims.
The civil suit says that when Russell did eventually get out of the vehicle, two officers had total control over his movements, alleging that he “was never a threat to the RCMP officers’ safety.”
Court documents allege that Const. Siggy Pietrzak then came running.
“Without any hesitation, he began punching the plaintiff repeatedly, causing the plaintiff lacerations, damage to his nose, cuts on his face, facial bruising, swelling and excessive bleeding, as well as damage to his ribs,” the lawsuit reads.
The civil suit also alleges that Russell was handcuffed and “for no legal reason” taken to the Kelowna detachment, where a bag was placed over his head and he was strapped to a chair.
“The plaintiff complained about feeling pain in his ribs and his face, and while blood was dripping from his face, the officers refused to provide medical attention to the plaintiff,” according to the allegations.
Russell was then taken to the hospital but allegedly never seen by a doctor, according to the lawsuit.
“The plaintiff was placed in a small room with Kelowna General Hospital security and strapped to a radiator so that he was unable to leave,” the civil suit says.
The lawsuit alleges that security unsuccessfully attempted to first shove Russell out of the hospital through the back door, and then later physically pulled him out through the front door.
Russell was never charged.
After the witness video surfaced, RCMP held a press conference where Supt. Brent Mundle said Russell was arrested for obstruction and struggled with police officers.
“The video only illustrates one short moment during the incident and does not include what precipitated the situation where the officer felt the physical force seen in the video was necessary,” Mundle said.
At the time, Pietrzak was put on desk duty.
“The officer involved remains assigned to administrative duties,” Staff Sgt. Janelle Shoihet said in an email. “Duty status is subject to continual review and assessment.”
“Given this matter is now before the court, and subject to an on-going statutory and code of conduct investigations, it would really be inappropriate for us to comment,” she added.
Russell filed the civil suit against Pietrzak, Canada’s attorney general, and the justice minister, which is responsible for the RCMP’s actions.
He’s seeking punitive damages against the RCMP and Pietrzak.
“As a direct, foreseeable and proximate result of the RCMP and Pietrzak’s unlawful actions, the plaintiff has suffered emotional distress, humiliation, shame and embarrassment all to the plaintiff’s damage,” according to the lawsuit.
None of the allegations have been proven in court.
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