Manitoba

2nd video of officer has 'almost racist overtones': Winnipeg police chief

Winnipeg's police chief says he is concerned about the "almost racist overtones" of a second video involving the a Winnipeg police officer caught ticketing a driver after the passenger asked why he wasn't wearing a mask.

New video surfaces of officer who ticketed a driver following mask question

Patrol Sgt. Kevin Smith is seen in this 2019 video, threatening to arrest a man after he asked him why he was looking in his truck without a warrant. (Submitted by Trisha Fletcher)

Winnipeg's police chief says he is concerned by the "almost racist overtones" of a second video involving a police officer caught ticketing a driver after the passenger asked why he wasn't wearing a mask.

In a video that made international headlines last week, Patrol Sgt. Kevin Smith gave a ticket to a driver in apparent retaliation for the passenger asking Smith why he wasn't wearing a mask. 

Now, police Chief Danny Smyth said all options are on the table — including dismissal — after a second video was released showing Smith in 2019, threatening to arrest a man after he asked Smith why he was looking at his truck without a warrant. 

"I was disturbed by what I saw in that second video," Smyth told reporters Monday of the exchange between Smith and the individual.

"Definitely inappropriate, just in the clip that I saw, there was almost racist overtones to some of that discussion.… Their engagement back and forth, I thought, was inappropriate and alluded to some things that I don't think were proper."

WATCH | Confrontation between Patrol Sgt. Kevin Smith and individual caught on video: 

Patrol Sgt. Kevin Smith threatens to arrest man

CBC News Manitoba

5 months ago
0:55
Patrol Sgt. Kevin Smith tells Stephen Stranger that he is going arrest him after Stranger asks Smith why he was looking in his truck. 0:55

The video was taken in front of the Pizzarama on Main Street and shows Steven Stranger, an Indigenous man from Peguis First Nation, repeatedly asking Smith why the officer was looking in Stranger's truck.

In the video, which was first posted to Facebook last week, Smith questions whether Stranger actually owns the vehicle. 

"If that is actually your truck, which I doubt it is," Smith says to the man.

"In about five seconds, I am going to get on the radio, and I am going to get another car to come down here, and things will go real bad."

The video was put online by Stranger's fiancée, Trisha Fletcher, after the first video showing Smith ticketing a driver was widely circulated.

WATCH | Driver ticketed after passenger asks officer why he isn't wearing a mask:

RAW: Driver ticketed after passenger asks officer why he wasn't wearing a mask

CBC News Manitoba

5 months ago
0:41
Cellphone video shows a Winnipeg police officer issuing a driver a traffic ticket after the passenger in the vehicle asked the officer why he wasn't wearing a mask, which is a current requirement by the police force. 0:41

In the 2019 video shot on Main Street, Stranger says he makes more money than Smith, and Smith replies, "Legally, you don't."

The video ends with Smith counting to five before threatening to take the man to the "drunk tank." 

Fletcher said after the video ended, Smith handcuffed her fiancé and said he would release him if she stopped recording.

They didn't report the incident or make a formal complaint at the time because they felt threatened and didn't think it would lead anywhere, she said.

"I feel even if we did, all that would happen is a slap on the wrist for them," she said. 

Fletcher, who is from Fisher River Cree Nation, feels Smith targeted them because they are Indigenous.

"In every way, shape and form," she said, when asked if she felt there were racist overtones in Smith's conduct. 

Incidents will be reviewed: chief

Moe Sabourin, president of the Winnipeg Police Association, said it is important people understand the whole context of a situation rather than relying on a video that can be edited.

"The person recording only chose to post what they felt was appropriate to post. We quite often see this when the people want to edit out their own behaviour," Sabourin said about the first video.

Sabourin said it is important to note that in the first video of Smith, the driver had been stopped for not moving to a farther lane when passing a stopped emergency vehicle.

After the first video was made public, Smyth said the police professional standards unit would review what happened and decide on an appropriate disciplinary action.

On Monday, Smyth said the second video and any other allegations that surface will also be used in the review. 

"The unit will go through all of it, and if there are other instances to look at, they will look at it," Smyth said. 

The unit will decide whether there are any internal charges to be laid, based on both incidents.

"From what I have seen they [charges] will be warranted," Smyth said.

Incidents like this do not represent the actions of all police officers, Smyth said.

"Does this help us as an organization? No. It is terrible conduct. But this won't be the first and it won't be the last time we have to hold our members accountable for doing wrong," he said.

"The vast majority of our people do our jobs."

WATCH | Full video

FULL RAW VIDEO: Patrol Sgt. Kevin Smith threatens to arrest man

CBC News Manitoba

5 months ago
3:55
Police Chief Danny Smyth said that there are "almost racist overtones" in Sgt. Kevin Smith's conversation with Stephen Stranger. 3:55

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kristin Annable is a member of CBC's investigative unit based in Winnipeg. She can be reached at kristin.annable@cbc.ca

with files from Sean Kavanagh and Austin Grabish

now