Witnesses challenge Salmon Arm police version of teen assault by 37-year-old man | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Witnesses challenge Salmon Arm police version of teen assault by 37-year-old man

A group of teens say a 37-year-old man followed them from this McDonald's and assaulted them near the intersection of Hwy 1 and 30 Street NE Aug. 7, 2017.
Image Credit: Google streetview
August 11, 2017 - 6:30 PM

SALMON ARM – A witness to the altercation that started inside a Salmon Arm fast food restaurant and seriously injured a 14-year-old this week disputes most of the facts released by RCMP earlier this week.

Asha Gerbrandt was with three friends between the ages of 12 and 14 when they decided to go to McDonalds for food and pop. The evening of Aug. 7 was hot and the restaurant was crowded around 8 p.m.

Salmon Arm RCMP Staff Sgt. Scott West issued a release to the media yesterday saying a verbal altercation began that evening between one of the teens and a 37-year-old man.

“The two had a verbal altercation… after the 15-year-old allegedly elbowed the adult male in the back,” West said in the release. The victim, according to his mother, is actually 14.

Gerbrandt says many other facts in the release are wrong.

“My friend was filling up two pop cups and it was kind of a narrow walkway,” she says. “He accidentally backed into the guy.

“(My friend) was like, 'I’m so sorry', but the man got very mad. He said ‘I will break your jaw.’”

Gerbrandt describes the 37-year-old as standing at least four inches taller than her friend and much heavier. He was wearing a baseball hat backwards and steel-toed work boots.

“He was really scary,” she says. “He had lots of tattoos, a couple piercings.”

The teens left the restaurant but according to both RCMP and Gerbrandt, it didn’t end there. RCMP say one of the kids “yelled at the car the adult was in.”

“The adult stopped and there was another verbal altercation, which escalated in to a physical altercation,” Staff Sgt. West said in the release.  

Gerbrandt says again that’s not what happened.

“We were minding our own business walking and this silver SUV pulls up beside us with a lady in the driver’s seat,” Gerbrandt says. “The man in the passenger seat gets out and says, ‘your friends aren’t here to protect you now’ and starts pounding his face.”

She says her friend never threw a single punch.

“(The man) kicked him in the head and he keeps punching him and punching him,” she says.

He didn’t stop until a Domino’s Pizza employee ran outside.

“He was knocked out, blood everywhere,” Gerbrandt says.

According to her, RCMP took statements from witnesses but has no idea how the release sent to media got so many facts wrong.

“I was very shocked and angry when I saw the police report,” she says. “It is from (the 37-year-old) point of view. They didn’t even get my friend's age right.”

West concludes the release by saying the suspect was arrested as a result of the RCMP’s investigation and that he was released on a promise to appear.

Gerbrandt says it was the quick thinking of the Domino’s employee that resulted in the arrest.

“The Domino’s guy got their licence (plate number),” she says.

Now, according to the victim’s mother, Janine Kalke, the 14-year-old is recovering. 

“My son luckily had a backpack on which I believe saved his back from the kicks to it,” she says in an email. “My son also was smart enough to curl into the fetal position to protect his face.”

The media release, in their opinion, makes it sound like the assault was started by the victim and they are worried that justice will not be served. They are also feeling the sting of public back lash as a result of the release.

“It makes me sad because all the comments are saying how ‘the kid deserved it’ but he didn’t,” Gerbrandt says. “He apologized when he accidentally bumped into the man. After that it seemed like they had followed us.”

An email to Salmon Arm RCMP seeking additional details was not returned. The name of the man involved was not released and he could not be contacted for this story. 

To contact a reporter for this story, email Adam Proskiw or call 250-718-0428 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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News from © iNFOnews, 2017

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