SENIOR KELOWNA RCMP THREW GEOFF MANTLER UNDER THE BUS, LAWYER SAYS
Geoffrey Adam Mantler, the Kelowna cop villified nation-wide after a YouTube video showed him kicking a suspect in the head, was given a suspended sentence today with 18 months of probation. If Mantler successfully completes his probation period which includes 50 hours of community service, he will be a free man.
Kelowna Provincial Court Judge Greg Koturbash ruled Mantler's moral guilt and deep regret of his actions kept him from serving time in jail. Mantler's lawyer Neville McDougall requested his client receive a lighter sentence in the form of a conditional discharge, leaving his client without a criminal record. However, Judge Koturbash said in this case a discharge would be contrary to the public interest.
The suspended sentence was better justified to protect public trust in Canada's law enforcement officers.
“The incident helped fuel a culture of distrust in police officers,” he said.
While similar crimes committed by police officers can fetch anywhere from 18 months in prison to an absolute discharge from punishment, Koturbash had to consider the infamy Mantler has endured in the past two years.
“He has already paid a significant price for this crime,” Koturbash said. He lost his career, was publicly shamed and suffered financial setbacks.
Koturbash recognized the public will likely have difficulty accepting his sentence. But he hopes the public will make an effort to understand the full story behind Mantler's actions on January 7, 2011 and show compassion for both men involved
The Code 5 "active shooter" call Mantler responded to that day is described as one of the most serious calls an officer will deal with. Officers often experience a dump of adrenaline triggered by the body's fear response. Koturbash acknowledged Mantler was, “under this state of extreme stress” having put himself in a 'heat of the moment' situation. Koturbash also noted Mantler had never dealt with a Code 5 call and was still an inexperienced officer.
The judge also noted since the 1999 Columbine shootings, police officers are now trained to respond immediately to situations with an active shooter, to disarm the suspect as soon as possible. This means officers must respond even if it requires risking their lives.
Following today's sentencing, Mantler's lawyer told the press the most troubling factor was the neglect of Kelowna's RCMP detachment on the morning of the incident.
"The thing that's bothered me the most about this entire situation is the gross lack of supervision by the RCMP at this detachment," he told reporters. "This occured on a Friday at 10 a.m. and there must at least have been 15 (senior or non-commissioned offcers) with a minimum of eight years service," he said.
"Not one responded."
Since the YouTube video of the kicking went viral, garnering national outrage over the incident, McDougall says none of the management at the Kelowna RCMP have taken any responsibilty.
"They've thrown Geoff Mantler under the bus," he said.
When asked whether Mantler will pursue re-instatement, McDougall said his client is currently employed but has left his policing career behind.
“Today I don't believe there's any hope or aspiration of joining a police department,” McDougall said.
Victim Buddy Tavares also attended today's sentencing, and revealed that he has no intention of future reconciliation with Mantler.
"That's never going to happen, it would be a pretty volatile situation," he said.
To contact the reporter for this story, email Julie Whittet at email@example.com or call (250)718-0428.