Kelowna Mountie under investigation after video surfaces of violent arrest
12-second video shows RCMP officer repeatedly punching man who is being restrained by two officers
Kelowna RCMP have launched an internal investigation into the actions of an officer seen during a brief video repeatedly punching a suspect while the man is being restrained by two other officers.
A 12-second video shows a portion of a Saturday night arrest after police allegedly responded to a report of an intoxicated man who was found inside a vehicle.
Kelowna RCMP Supt. Brent Mundle said during a news conference that the man was unco-operative and struggled with two officers as they attempted to arrest him.
Mundle said the suspect clenched his fists and refused to co-operate with the officers, so they called a third officer for backup.
The video captures the third officer arriving in a police vehicle and running to where the man is struggling with the two officers.
The officer — whose identity has not been released — immediately appears to start punching the suspect in the head.
WATCH | A Mountie arrives on the scene and sprints toward his fellow officers and the suspect:
"Obviously in the short duration of the video, the action is concerning," Mundle told reporters.
"It's important when I review these matters that I look at the full incident and what happened prior and after so that I can fully understand before coming to a judgment."
The officer under investigation has three years' service. The internal investigation will make a determination with respect to his duty status.
Mundle said police are trained to use physical force when circumstances demand including "strikes." But he didn't say whether officers are specifically trained to punch someone in the head to subdue them.
WATCH | Officer's actions are concerning, RCMP superintendent says:
"I recognize that the tactics seen in this video are shocking to many people," Mundle told reporters.
"Anytime an officer is required to apply a use-of-force option during an arrest, it can appear disturbing."
Mundle said the internal review will include a code of conduct investigation.
The suspect was taken to police station cells for processing and then transported to hospital, where he was treated for non-life-threatening injuries and released. Mundle said a criminal investigation into his actions is still ongoing.
Call for independent investigation
Kash Heed, former B.C. solicitor general and former chief of the West Vancouver Police Department, said in his 31 years of policing experience he has never been in a situation where the level of force seen in this video would be appropriate.
"Very seldom would you be able to justify using that type of force, and certainly not in this particular situation," said Heed Wednesday on CBC Radio's Daybreak South, noting the third officer does not appear to do any sort of risk assessment when he arrives on the scene.
Heed is calling for a "transparent and thorough investigation" to be conducted by an independent agency other than the RCMP, to remove bias and rebuild public trust.
During his news conference, Mundle said the provincial police watchdog, the Independent Investigations Office (IIO), is not investigating the incident because it doesn't meet IIO's threshold of harm.