Jarett Gelowitz’s knee strike ‘disillusioning’ and ‘alarming’: Crown prosecutor
A Crown prosecutor considers a knee strike by a fired Saskatoon police officer “unnecessary and gratuitous,” while the defence argued it was appropriate.
Much of Friday’s closing arguments focused on the blow Jarett Gelowitz delivered after two punches to the face of Kehler Bear, now 20, following a 13-minute police pursuit.
Gelowitz is charged with assault related to the December 2016 arrest near Ruth Street and Underwood Avenue in Saskatoon.
Dashboard video from a police cruiser showed Gelowitz, 32, reach into the smashed out window of a stolen Hyundai Tucson. Four officers were involved in pulling Bear out when Gelowitz kneed the suspect and took him to the ground.
Such actions are “disillusioning” and “alarming” because police officers are expected to act better, according to Crown prosecutor Jennifer Schmidt.
Gelowitz testified during trial that his goal was to get Bear in handcuffs and in the back of a police car. On Friday, Schmidt stated the former officer’s only objective while kneeing was “violence in its most gratuitous sense.”
She argued Bear was already exiting the window when he was hit.
WARNING: This video may contain violent content. Discretion advised. Dashboard camera video shows alleged Saskatoon police assault
According to defence lawyer Brad Mitchell, Gelowitz was acting in accordance with his training, doing what he needed to get a resisting subject under control.
“That knee strike was the pivotal moment in this altercation with Mr. Bear,” Mitchell said.
The knee was the most reasonable and appropriate tactic available, Mitchell said, noting how a defence expert witness called a knee strike one of the most commonly trained tactics for North American police officers.
Joel Johnston, a retired Vancouver police officer and use of force trainer, told court Thursday that Gelowitz was in line with law enforcement training and best practices.
During trial, Bear told court the officer kicked him in the head, which Mitchell said is refuted by police video.
“He didn’t go in and kick Mr. Bear. Not even close,” Mitchell said, telling Justice Richard Danyliuk Bear’s testimony should be given “little to no weight.”
Bear didn’t hide anything about his involvement in the arrest, according to Schmidt, who reminded the court that he has served his sentence and was not on trial.
“He’s a kid that works at a Wendy’s and wants to go to welding school,” Schmidt said.
The Crown also questioned if it was reasonable to expect Bear to leave through a window surrounded with broken glass.
Danyliuk’s decision is expected July 31.
Gelowitz was fired from the Saskatoon Police Service in August 2018 over multiple assault allegations. One charge has since been withdrawn while another hasn’t reached the preliminary inquiry stage.
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