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RCMP launch code of conduct probe in B.C. over violent arrest caught on video


October 28, 2020
By The Canadian Press

WILLIAMS LAKE, B.C. — The RCMP’s North District commander says video taken of a violent arrest in Williams Lake, B.C., doesn’t show the full scope of the arrest or provide the context of what happened beforehand.

The video posted to social media by a passerby shows an officer kicking and punching a man on the ground while another officer is trying to handcuff him.

“What is captured by the civilian video was the culmination of a high-risk, multi-jurisdictional incident, that put the lives of the public and police in several communities in jeopardy,” said Chief Supt. Warren Brown.

The incident began on Sunday with reports of a man driving erratically in Kamloops, almost 300 kilometres away from the location of the arrest, said Brown in a statement provided to media.

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An inquiry into the vehicle showed the driver had recently been found with a loaded handgun, he said.

The driver failed to stop for officers in the town of Clinton and again in 100 Mile House, fleeing from police at high speeds and endangering himself, police and members of the public, said Brown.

Officers deployed a spike belt just outside 150 Mile House, puncturing two tires, he said, but the truck did not stop until it hit another spike belt along the highway in Williams Lake.

The video posted to Facebook shows several RCMP vehicles converging at the side of the highway as an officer chases a man down an embankment.

The man appears to stop and kneel before being restrained by the first officer while a second officer rushes in, kicking the man twice and punching him multiple times.

Brown said the driver refused to show his hands while he was being arrested and the second officer seen in the video was aware the man could have been armed.

The suspect did not have a gun on Sunday, he said.

Brown said the second officer used several “strikes” to quickly gain control of the man who was subject to seven outstanding warrants for offences including dangerous driving, flight from police, prohibited driving, possession of stolen property and three counts of breach.

The Tsilhqot’in National Government released a statement condemning the violent arrest and calling for the immediate suspension of the officers involved.

Brown said a code of conduct investigation has been launched and the Mounties are in discussions about what role an external agency may have in reviewing the use of force and determining if it was necessary under the circumstances.

The Mounties’ review of the arrest would include speaking with witnesses and the officers involved as well as reviewing police radio transmissions and any video, he said.

RCMP in Williams Lake are investigating the newest allegations against the driver and the detachment will forward its findings to the B.C. Prosecution Service to determine the charges, he said.

Brown thanked the public for calling attention to the incident and said he has “full confidence that the review and internal investigation underway will allow for a full capture of the facts that will guide our actions and any other decisions moving forward.”

— By Brenna Owen in Vancouver.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 27, 2020.

This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship.

 The Canadian Press Enterprises Inc., 2020