Image from a video taken of the arrest on May 30 in downtown Kelowna.

Image from a video taken of the arrest on May 30 in downtown Kelowna.

Attorney General of Canada defends Kelowna Mountie involved in rough arrest

Tyler Russell filed a lawsuit against Const. Siggy Pietrzak in June of this year

The Attorney General of Canada (AGC) has denied excessive force was used in a May arrest in Kelowna during which a local Mountie was caught on camera punching a man several times in the face.

Tyler Russell filed a lawsuit against Const. Siggy Pietrzak, the B.C. Minister of Justice and the AGC after video of the offence went public in June 2020.

In a response to that claim filed earlier this month, the AGC denies Russell’s allegations that Pietrzak assaulted him, contending instead that Pietrzak’s strikes allowed officers to gain control over Russell.

“The AGC denies that the RCMP Members used excessive force in apprehending the plaintiff, or otherwise, and say that any force they used against the plaintiff was reasonable and justified in law,” reads the AGC’s response to the civil claim.

According to the AGC’s response, on May 30, 2020, an RCMP officer located Russell in a vehicle that, upon investigation, he was found to be driving without permission of the owner.

Upon request, Russell got out of the vehicle and officers noted a strong smell of alcohol, prompting them to seek a breath sample. At that point, the response claims, Russell became agitated.

Based on Russell’s “yelling and aggressive behaviour,” the officer sensed the situation escalating and requested back-up.

Another officer arrived and unsuccessfully attempted to assist the first officer in restraining Russell.

It was then Const. Pietrzak arrived on scene.

“(He) applied multiple closed hand strikes to the plaintiff’s head in order to gain control over the plaintiff. The constables were then able to bring the plaintiff to the ground, place handcuffs on him, and move him to the back of Const. Donahue’s police vehicle,” stated the AGC.

In the vehicle, the filing alleges, officers found half a bottle of hard alcohol behind the passenger seat; a glass pipe with unburned white powder, believed to be either cocaine or methamphetamine; and a flap of white powder, believed to be either cocaine or methamphetamine, in a wallet that contained Russell’s identification.

READ MORE: Kelowna man sues Mountie, province after viral arrest

READ MORE: Kelowna officer at centre of punch-throwing arrest also faced 2018 complaint probe

While being held at the RCMP detachment, Russell asked for medical attention. The suit claims upon the arrival of EHS personnel, Russell was “yelling and acting aggressively” towards them.

Russell was placed in a restraint chair to allow healthcare workers to examine him and was subsequently transported to the hospital without charge.

According to Russel’s claim filed back in June, he suffered damage to his nose, facial bruising, swelling and excessive bleeding, as well as damage to his face.

The claim also alleges Russell was unlawfully treated while at the detachment, that officers forced him to leave the hospital without receiving the care he needed and that when Russell was detained at the detachment RCMP was negligent. It also alleges his Charter rights were breached claiming he was detained without being provided with a reason and not informed of his right to retain counsel immediately.

As a result of the incident, Russell claims he has now suffered embarrassment and suicidal ideation. He alleges he now suffers from PTSD, repeated and ongoing nightmares, anxiety, nervous shock, tenderness to his face and ribs and constant and severe migraines, among other issues.

S/Sgt. Janelle Shoihet, the B.C. RCMP’s senior media relations officer said Pietrzak remains assigned to administrative duties and his duty status is subject to continuous review and assessment.

An internal investigation of Pietrzak’s actions remains on-going. The findings of that investigation will be forwarded to the BC Prosecution Service for charge consideration.

None of the claims made by the AGC nor Russell have been tested in court.

Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email: michael.rodriguez@kelownacapnews.com


@michaelrdrguez
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

lawsuitRCMP

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

Just Posted

This Earth Day, Cowichan Valley residents are being asked to clean up where they are. (File photo)
Cowichan ‘Clean Where You Are’ campaign starts on Earth Day

Take a bag, one glove, long tongs, and go pick up!

City of Duncan considering an average 3.51 per cent tax increase for 2021. (File photo)
Duncan considers average 3.51% tax increase for 2021

Homeowners would see a $43 increase over last year

North Cowichan councillor Kate Marsh. (File photo)
North Cowichan postpones decision on cell tower placement

But cell tower policy may be developed soon

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson outlines the province’s three-year budget in Victoria, April 20, 2021. (B.C. government video)
B.C. deficit to grow by $19 billion for COVID-19 recovery spending

Pandemic-year deficit $5 billion lower than forecast

B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry speaks at a press conference Monday, April 18. (B.C. Government image)
New COVID-19 cases tick down on the central Island

New cases held to single digits three days in a row

FILE – NDP Leader John Horgan, right, and local candidate Mike Farnworth greet one another with an elbow bump during a campaign stop in Coquitlam, B.C., on Friday, September 25, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. won’t be using random individual road stops to enforce travel rules: Safety Minister

Minister Mike Farnworth says travel checks only being considered at major highway junctions, ferry ports

A man pauses at a coffin after carrying it during a memorial march to remember victims of overdose deaths in Vancouver. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. announces historic half-billion-dollar funding for overdose crisis, mental health

Of it, $152 million will be used to address the opioid crisis and see the creation of 195 new substance use treatment beds

Children’s backpacks and shoes are seen at a CEFA (Core Education and Fine Arts) Early Learning daycare franchise, in Langley, B.C., on Tuesday May 29, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. budget to expand $10-a-day child care, but misses the mark on ‘truly universal’ system

$111 million will be used to fund 3,750 new $10-a-day spaces though 75 additional ChildCareBC universal prototype sites over the next three years.

Mak Parhar speaks at an anti-mask rally outside the Vancouver Art Gallery on Sunday, Nov. 1, 2020. Parhar was arrested on Nov. 2 and charged with allegedly violating the Quarantine Act after returning from a Flat Earth conference held in Geenville, South Carolina on Oct. 24. (Flat Earth Focker/YouTube.com screenshot)
Judge tosses lawsuit of B.C. COVID-denier who broke quarantine after Flat Earth conference

Mak Parhar accused gov, police of trespass, malfeasance, extortion, terrorism, kidnapping and fraud

Ambulance paramedic in full protective gear works outside Lion’s Gate Hospital, March 23, 2020. Hospitals are seeing record numbers of COVID-19 patients more than a year into the pandemic. (The Canadian Press)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate declines, 849 cases Tuesday

Up to 456 people now in hospital, 148 in intensive care

Christy Clark, who was premier from 2011 to 2017, is the first of several present and past politicians to appear this month before the Cullen Commission, which is investigating the causes and impact of B.C.’s money-laundering problem over the past decade. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)
Christy Clark says she first learned of money-laundering spike in 2015

The former B.C. premier testified Tuesday she was concerned the problem was ‘apparently at an all-time high’

Most Read