April 30, 2013 - 5:21 PM
A former Kelowna RCMP officer caught on video kicking a man during an arrest will be sentenced in Provincial Court this afternoon but it appears he won't be looking at time in jail. The Crown is requesting a suspended sentence for officer Geoff Mantler, for him to complete an 18-month probation period and to undergo re-training before being reinstated in the service.
Mantler pleaded guilty to kicking a suspect believed to have fired guns in public in January 2011. Mantler was responding to a report of shots fired at the Harvest Golf Course when he intercepted the suspect near the intersection of K.L.O. and Lakeshore Road. Suspect Buddy Tavares had only fired shots at geese on the golf course and had not committed any crime. When Const. Mantler stopped Tavares, he forced him out of his vehicle, onto his knees, and then kicked Tavares in the head.
Multiple witnessed saw the incident, including a news reporter who caught the act on video.
Victim Buddy Tavares read an impact statement in court this morning describing the physical and emotional turmoil he has since endured. Tavares had been recovering from a former brain injury following a motorbike incident, and now suffers from acute headaches.
"I get punished every day for his actions," Tavares told the court.
Defence lawyer Neville McDougall said today his client was still a junior officer at the time of the incident, lacking both the training and experience necessary to respond to such cases. He maintains his client believed he was dealing with a homicidal suspect trying to escape, and felt threatened for his life before dealing the kick.
"We have the benefit of hindsight; Mantler didn't," McDougall told the court.
When asked how he felt leaving the courthouse earlier today, Tavares said: "I've seen a lot of god damn excuses in my life, but this tops all of it."
Judge Gregory Koturbash will announce a sentence for Mantler Thursday morning.
To contact the reporter for this story, email Julie Whittet at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (250)718-0428.
News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2013