'I could feel the boot in my face': Alleged victim speaks at assault trial of former Saskatoon cop
Former Const. Jarett Gelowitz charged with assault after 2016 arrest, fired after charges laid
A Saskatoon police officer appears to yell "stop" just before former constable Jarrett Gelowitz delivers a knee to the head of a suspect.
Videos played at Gelowitz's assault trial Monday also show Gelowitz making several kicking and punching motions toward suspect Kehler Bear during a controversial 2016 arrest.
Gelowitz, 32, was fired by the Saskatoon Police Service last year after being charged in connection with the incident. Another separate on-duty assault charge was dropped by the Crown last month. In August, Saskatoon police Chief Troy Cooper said Gelowitz was "unsuitable for police service."
Justice Richard Danyliuk will now have to decide whether the actions of the former constable constituted assault.
After receiving media requests and hearing from lawyers involved in the case, Danyliuk ruled the video could be played publicly. He said the principle of open courts was important, and public release of the video in this judge-only trial would not prejudice this or any future matters involving Gelowitz.
Bear, now 20, led officers on a car chase through the Adelaide and Haultain neighbourhoods. His car finally stopped after hitting a spike belt.
In court, Bear said officers smashed out the drivers-side window and one officer kicked him in the head before dragging him out of the car.
"I could feel the boot in my face," Bear said in court. "I put my head back and felt my tooth move."
Bear said he remembers raising his hands while still in the car and saying "Don't shoot." He said he remembers being thrown to the ground, punched in the head and handcuffed.
Under cross-examination by Gelowitz's lawyer Brad Mitchell, Bear admitted he ignored stop signs and nearly collided with another vehicle while speeding through a residential area. Court also heard the stolen SUV he was driving reached speeds of 160 kilometres per hour during the approximately 12-minute chase.
Mitchell said the incident is more than two years old, and noted Bear had marijuana and a scale in the vehicle.
"You agree your memory is fuzzy?" Mitchell asked.
"Yes," Bear replied.
When a police cruiser turned its lights and sirens on, Bear raced off.
"I just didn't want to stop," he told the court.
When asked if he could say whether the officer that kicked him in the face was present in court, Bear said he wasn't sure, but that the officer was tall, was wearing glasses and had the sides of his hair cut short.
Video from two patrol cars involved in the pursuit was played Monday. Police cars, with lights and sirens blaring, surround Bear's stolen SUV as it eventually rolls to a stop with flattened tires. Someone off camera yells "Show me your hands!"
The driver and passenger windows are then smashed out with police batons. Another voice is heard apparently yelling "Show us your hands or you'll get shot!"
An officer in a dark tuque — identified in court Monday by other officers as Gelowitz — walks quickly toward the driver side door. The officer makes what appear to be two punching motions and then a kick, through the smashed-out driver side window. The grainy video does not show a wide enough perspective to see inside the vehicle.
A few seconds later, while attempting to pull Bear out of the window by both hands, Gelowitz drives a knee toward the open window.
Then a few seconds after that, Gelowitz and two other officers appear to be pulling the man out through the window. An officer appears to yell, "He's out. He's out. He's out. Stop."
Gelowitz then appears to pull Bear's purple shirt over his head. Gelowitz appears to drive his knee into the man's covered face. Bear is pulled onto the ground and taken into custody.
Another video captures audio from Bear saying he felt lightheaded and asking for an ambulance. Bear incurred cuts on his arm and back, scrapes on his hips and bruises on his face.
Bear was convicted of evading police and dangerous driving and received a sentence of two years less a day that was served in the community.
Other officers involved in the pursuit say they didn't see whether Gelowitz hit the man.
"There was a lot going on," Const. Cody Bear testified.
The trial is scheduled to continue Tuesday.
- An earlier version of this story said Jarett Gelowitz is charged with aggravated assault. In fact, he is charged with assault.May 08, 2019 1:33 PM CT
With files from David Shield