KELOWNA – An RCMP officer accused of assault says the elderly bar patron he took to the ground, punched three times and arrested last year was going for his gun.
“I (felt) a very distinct feeling on my right hip,” the accused, Const. Grant Jacobson, 32, said in court today, May 26. “In the moment it’s difficult to tell but the only thing I could think is he’s grabbing onto my gun. I closed my fist and punched him in the stomach. It was the best target area that I could see. Generally when you hit someone in the stomach their hands go to their stomach.”
Surveillance video taken outside Rose’s Pub on June 28, 2014 shows Jacobson grab hold of John McCormick, then 60, take him to the ground and hit him in the ribs with his fist at least three times.
He's charged with criminal assault but says the only reason he took McCormick to the ground in the first place was because he made a threatening gesture after telling him the bar was closing and he had to leave.
“He was either trying to push me or strike me,” Jacobson said. “At that point I decided I was going to take Mr. McCormick to the ground and arrest him.”
McCormick says Jacobson attacked him without reason while Jacobson maintains he was dealing with a belligerent drunk who has a history of unpredictable behaviour.
"When you get to that point where someone is trying to get to your gun… there are a lot of variables," he said. "This is not something where you want to be complacent. You move with 100 per cent speed and aggression to neutralize the threat.”
According to McCormick, the incident started when he approached Jacobson about the police presence.
“I asked Const. Jacobson… what’s going on and he says to me ‘none of your business’, I said ‘excuse me I’m just asking a question’. He goes ‘fuck off’, and I said, ‘you fuck off,’” McCormick told Judge Gregory Koturbash Monday, May 25. “He took my drink, put it on the table and attacked me. The next thing I knew I was on the deck.”
Crown lawyer Kevin Fotty had a difficult task trying to make McCormick’s testimony appear credible. McCormick contradicted himself, misremembered facts and became belligerent with defence lawyer Norm Yates.
He admits he was at the pub from 1 p.m. until his arrest after 2 a.m. but said he remembered everything clearly. He recanted his testimony that he “never uses profanity” however, when video footage of the booking showed him swearing repeatedly.
McCormick, who admits to being in Rose’s Pub more than 13 hours that day, was arrested for assault and obstruction, spent the night in Kelowna jail but was released the next morning without charges. He was fined for public intoxication and disorderly conduct.
“I wasn’t injured, he wasn’t injured, I felt I could deal with it another way,” Jacobson said.
Photos shown in court show minor scrapes and bruises to McCormick’s hand, back, eye and arm.
Court heard Tuesday that Jacobson, an eight-year member of Kelowna RCMP, spoke with McCormick earlier that night when the now 61-year-old, known to bar staff as ‘Irish,’ approached Jacobson and invited him to join in a pint.
“He tried to start a friendly conversation with me but I explained to him that I was on duty,” he said. “He seemed a little upset that I was dismissing him.”
The trial was expected to last only two days but will continue at a later date yet to be established.
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