The B.C. police officer charged with assault for kicking a man in the face is being made a scapegoat for mistakes made by the RCMP, the officer's lawyer says.

Const. Geoff Mantler has pleaded not guilty to the assault on Buddy Tavares, who Mantler kicked when Tavares was on all fours after an arrest in Kelowna in January.

Mantler also pleaded not guilty to the assault of another man  during a separate arrest.

Mantler's lawyer, Neville McDougall, said Tuesday the officer has been "thrown under the bus" by higher echelons of the RCMP to protect the image of the force.

"It's unfortunate — and quite frankly I expect more from people of the rank of superintendent and deputy commissioner — to look at a 30- to 45-second video and take that as being the complete story," McDougall said outside court.

McDougall was referring to an online video of Mantler kicking Tavares that went viral after the incident.

Also a lawsuit issue

"There's been no discussion as to what supervision was being provided to these junior members. No NCOs were responding to this call for no apparent reason no sergeant, no staff sergeant."


Suspended Kelowna RCMP Const. Geoff Mantler has pleaded not guilty to two charges of assault. ((CBC))

Mantler has been suspended from the RCMP without pay, a move which McDougall said he also might challenge in federal court.

"Geoff Mantler was thrown under the bus," McDougall said, "based on public perception and to try to maintain the integrity of the RCMP as a unit, as opposed to what he was acting on that day."

The most senior member on the scene had just over three years experience — an issue that also forms part of a lawsuit that Tavares has filed against the RCMP.

Tavares is claiming negligence because the officers involved in his arrest were not adequately supervised or instructed.

Dates have yet to be set in the assault trial.

With files from the CBC's Jackie Sharkey