The Kelowna RCMP says it is undertaking a “thorough internal review” in the wake of a video appearing to show a police officer punching a man during an arrest.
However, the officer in charge of the detachment, Supt. Brent Mundle, emphasized that the short video of the incident, which occurred downtown on Saturday, only shows part of what transpired.
“It does not include what precipitated the situation where the officer felt the physical force seen in the video was necessary,” Mundle said in a statement.
“Our officers are trained to conduct a continual risk assessment of the situation. Often these decisions are required in a split second.”
According to police, the events began when the RCMP received a report of a “suspicious vehicle with an alleged impaired driver” in a parking lot near Bernard Avenue.
Police said officers arrived to find a 30-year-old Kelowna man inside a vehicle, allegedly intoxicated and uncooperative.
In the video, which has not been verified by Global News, two officers appear to be on either side of the man, with one officer appearing to have his arm around the man’s neck.
There’s some commotion among the three, and then a third officer runs up and appears to repeatedly punch the man.
Police said the third officer responded after his colleagues requested immediate backup “because of the difficulty in safely bringing the man under control.”
“When the third officer arrived he observed the man was still resisting arrest. In order to gain control of the situation he was struck several times and then taken to the ground and handcuffed, “ Mundle said at a Tuesday afternoon press conference.
“I recognize that the tactics seen in the video are shocking to many people. Any time an officer is required to apply a use of force option during an arrest it can appear very disturbing. It is always our intention to enact a peaceful arrest but, when circumstances require it, officers may be required to use other options this may include the use of physical force,” Mundle said.
The detachment head said officers are trained to use strikes if the circumstances warrant it.
Police said the man was being arrested on allegations of obstructing an officer.
“The man actively resisted and allegedly turned assaultive toward the RCMP officers by pulling away, raising clenched fists, and refusing to cooperate with commands that were given to him,” spokesperson Cpl. Jocelyn Noseworthy said in a statement.
The man arrested has since been released from police custody.
However, a criminal investigation related to alleged impairment continues.
The officer involved was not at work Tuesday, Mundle said, and police will be making a determination with respect to the officer’s duty status as part of the review.
Mundle couldn’t provide a time frame for concluding the internal review.