A Canadian professional baseball player who captured an arrest in Kelowna, B.C. on video over the weekend said he was angry and frustrated by what he witnessed.
His video, as well as another which previously became public, appear to show an officer punching a suspect repeatedly during an arrest.
Tyson Gillies said he was having dinner on the rooftop patio of a Kelowna restaurant on Saturday when he heard a commotion and saw two officers trying to apprehend a suspect.
It’s what transpired when a third officer arrived at the scene that has triggered an internal RCMP investigation.
“He comes out swinging and all of a sudden you see maybe eight, nine blows to the head area,” Gillies said.
“As far as to serve and protect, in the situation that we saw that night it looked like he was only trying to protect themselves and I think that’s what’s wrong.”
Gillies said he and his friends were angry and frustrated at what they were witnessing.
“Feeling that anger is one thing. The point is you can’t do anything about it. That’s even worse,” he said.
“That was a very difficult time for us. We felt pretty disturbed for the rest of the weekend.”
Gillies said he doesn’t feel punches were necessary to subdue the suspect but acknowledged that he is not a trained police officer.
“I’m not saying anything bad about the police department because we don’t know what they go through every day. We are not in their shoes,” Gillies added.
Gillies’ video is the second recording of the incident to become public.
After an initial shorter video of the arrest came to light, police announced an internal review of events and “a code of conduct investigation” against one officer.
“I recognize that the tactics seen in this video are shocking to many people,” RCMP Supt. Brent Mundle, who is in charge of the Kelowna detachment, said Tuesday.
“Anytime an officer is required to apply a use-of-force option during an arrest it can appear 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 use of physical force.”
RCMP allege the 30-year-old Kelowna man who was arrested in this incident was intoxicated and uncooperative with police.
Police said the man struggled with officers as they were trying to arrest him for obstruction and police requested backup from a third officer.
“When the third officer arrived, he observed that the man was still resisting arrest. In order to gain control of the situation, and for the safety of the officers, he was struck several times and was then taken to the ground and handcuffed,” Mundle said.
Mundle stressed the initial video only recorded a portion of events and said the police review would “look at the full scope of the incident to ensure that all protocols and procedures were followed before, during and after the man was taken into custody.”
The initial recording has not been independently verified by Global News.
On Thursday, police announced Mundle will be transferring to another role within the RCMP once his replacement is arranged.
RCMP said this move had been in the works for months and “is in no way related to ongoing issues.”
– with files from John Hua