Protest planned
over violent arrest

RCMP ask for patience with investigation of incident,
worry about possible ‘civil disobedience’

John Colebourn, Vancouver Province, Jan. 16, 2011


A senior Kelowna Mountie is calling for calm after learning a rally is planned for today to protest the violent arrest Jan. 7 of Buddy Tavares.

Supt. Bill McKinnon held a press conference Saturday on the investigation of the kick to the head and the upcoming protest.

“The investigators arrived Tuesday afternoon and are making headway,” said McKinnon.

“They have approximately 40 witnesses to interview and have brought in three more investigators to expedite the investigation.”

McKinnon said it will take time to conduct a proper probe.

“We realize the processes are not moving as quickly as most people would like, but everyone must understand that the processes must be followed.”

He also said that, at this point, the officer involved is not going to be suspended without pay.

“Stoppage of pay will only be in extreme circumstances when it would be inappropriate to pay a member,” he said.

Of the protest planned for today, McKinnon said: “Protest is legal in the democracy that we live in. I have read the comments in various blogs that civil disobedience may erupt and that does concern me.

“I urge everyone to remain calm, make their point and allow the legal processes that are in place to come to completion.”

Tavares, 51, has been charged with careless use of a firearm in relation to a domestic-violence “situation,” which is still under investigation. He appeared briefly in a Kelowna court Monday to face the charge.

Tavares had been captured on video taking a kick to the head while on his knees during his arrest. The kick, the video shows, was by someone holding a gun and believed to be wearing steel-toed boots.

The video went viral and Abbotsford police were subsequently called in to investigate the level of force used in the arrest.

Tavares has a black eye and has said the kick to the head is causing headaches and other trauma.

Immediately after the incident, McKinnon reassigned the Kelowna officer allegedly involved in the arrest, Const. Geoff Mantler, to desk duties.

McKinnon has since suspended Mantler with pay, pending the results of the investigation.

Meanwhile, six detectives from the Abbotsford Police Department probing the violent arrest hope to hear from more witnesses.

Abbotsford police spokesman Const. Ian MacDonald said Saturday there is no timeline for the investigation.

“We are at the evidence-gathering stage,” said MacDonald.

“It has to be thorough and we have to let every possible witness come forward.”

Since the ugly incident, there has been a growing movement to show support for Tavares, with a rally scheduled for today in downtown Kelowna.

The gathering is being called “a peaceful rally to protest police brutality against citizens.”

Demonstrators plan to meet at noon at Kelowna City Park and march to the RCMP detachment in the downtown core.

The protest is being orchestrated via a Facebook page created in the wake of the arrest. The Facebook site calls for Mantler to be charged with assault.

MacDonald said investigators are well aware of the protest, but it will have no bearing on their investigation. He said the officer could face criminal charges.

“Theoretically, it could be a recommendation for an assault charge or assault causing bodily harm,” he said.

MacDonald also said that, while there are examples of police chiefs apologizing shortly after an incident, in this case the RCMP may wait until after the investigation is complete.

“This is different because it is a criminal investigation, and not simply a matter of a breach of the Police Act,” he said.

Investigators have the video and it is an important part of their work, he said.

“The video is very compelling evidence but it isn’t all the evidence,” he said.

A number of witnesses have contacted investigators in Kelowna and others have called a 1-800 number, said MacDonald.

But despite some people coming forward, police have yet to hear from key people working at or using the RBC Royal Bank at 3036 Pandosy St. in Kelowna. Others riding local buses are also being asked to tell police what they saw while going past the crime scene.

Witnesses should call the Abbotsford Police Department at 1-800-898-6111 and ask to speak to Const. Ian MacDonald.

The arrest unfolded after Kelowna RCMP received a call reporting that a male employee of the Harvest Golf Club was on the property with a shotgun.

McKinnon said witnesses heard shots fired and said the man then left the scene in a pickup truck; officers soon tracked him down and arrested him. A 12-gauge shotgun was seized.

The footage of the arrest, which went viral on media outlet,was taken by Kelowna-based journalist Kelly Hayes.

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The Buddy Tavares assault:
Protests speak louder than words
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