British Columbia

Kelowna man punched in head during arrest sues RCMP officer

A Kelowna, B.C., man who was repeatedly punched in the head by an RCMP officer during an arrest last month is suing the police officer, citing physical and emotional damages.

Video of arrest shows RCMP officer punching Tyler Russell in the head at least 10 times

Tyler Russell claims he was bloodied, bruised and swollen and not treated at the hospital after he was punched repeatedly by an RCMP officer during an arrest last month. (submitted by Bridge Law Corporation)

A Kelowna, B.C., man who was repeatedly punched in the head by an RCMP officer during an arrest last month is suing the police officer, citing physical and emotional damages.

Tyler Russell filed the civil lawsuit Wednesday in B.C. Supreme Court against Const. Siggy Pietrzak, the Attorney General of Canada, and the B.C. Minister of Justice.

In court documents Russell claims he sustained "multiple lacerations to his face, damage to his nose, bruising of his face and bruising of his ribs" during the assault. 

He claims the assault left him with "serious injuries and consequences, including: post-traumatic stress disorder, diminished self-worth, depression, anxiety and loss of enjoyment of life," among other challenges.

Earlier this month, two videos of the arrest surfaced showing an officer punching Russell in the head at least 10 times while two other RCMP officers restrained him.

RCMP launch internal investigation

None of the allegations have been proven in court.

RCMP spokesperson Janelle Shoihet said, "We are aware the suit has been filed but have not yet been served. Once received we will review the matter with the Department of Justice and our official response will be filed in court as a statement of defence. As the matter is now before the courts, it would be inappropriate to comment further." 

The RCMP launched a statutory code-of-conduct investigation and reassigned the officer involved to administrative duties. 

RCMP Superintendent Brent Mundle said prior to the arrest on May 30 police responded to a report of an intoxicated man in a vehicle who then became uncooperative and clenched his fists as he struggled with officers. Mundle said the two officers called for back-up.

Video shows RCMP officer repeatedly punching a man who is being restrained by officers

3 years ago
Duration 0:16
This video of an arrest by Kelowna RCMP has resulted in an internal investigation into the officer's actions.

In the videos a third officer is seen sprinting up to the struggle and immediately delivering a series of punches to Russell's head before the three officers take Russell to the ground.

In the civil claim, Russell says he was sitting in the passenger seat of his work vehicle when police officers approached him and demanded he get out of the vehicle and provide a breath sample. 

Russell refused as he was not driving and did not have the vehicle's keys in his possession, according to the lawsuit.

The civil suit says Russell was never a threat to the RCMP officers. He was not charged after the arrest. 

Russell claims in the lawsuit that after the arrest he was taken to the Kelowna RCMP detachment where officers strapped him to a chair and placed a bag over his head. 

Russell claims he was eventually taken to Kelowna General Hospital where he was placed in a small room and strapped to a radiator, but not treated by medical staff and eventually forced to leave the hospital by a security guard, according to the civil claim.

2nd video of violent Kelowna RCMP arrest emerges

3 years ago
Duration 1:00
A second video of an RCMP arrest shows an officer punching at least 10 times a man who is being restrained by other police.

Russell left the hospital with blood dripping down his face and went to his mother's house, where she took photos of his injuries, according to the court documents.

Russell is seeking punitive damages as well as costs related to loss of earnings, and recovery of health-care costs.

"The actions of Pietrzak and the RCMP were reckless, arrogant, high-handed and abusive and showed a callous disregard fo the Plaintiff's rights," the lawsuit states.

"Pietrzak and the RCMP have engaged in conduct that is reprehensible and deserves punishment."