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Lawsuit filed against RCMP makes shocking allegations during Kelowna, B.C., man’s arrest

Click to play video 'Civil lawsuit filed against RCMP details shocking allegations during Kelowna man’s arrest' Civil lawsuit filed against RCMP details shocking allegations during Kelowna man’s arrest
Civil lawsuit filed against RCMP details shocking allegations during Kelowna man’s arrest – Jun 18, 2020

A lawsuit filed against RCMP is giving more details about what allegedly transpired during a shocking arrest in downtown Kelowna.

Tyler Russell was sitting in the passenger seat of his work vehicle on May 30, according to the civil suit.

He was approached by two RCMP officers who asked that he step outside and provide a breath sample, according to court documents, but he refused because he wasn’t driving or in control of the vehicle and had no car keys.

READ MORE: ‘I was frustrated’: Witness speaks out after filming violent Kelowna arrest

“The plaintiff did not see a reason to get out of the vehicle as he was not in any violation of any Criminal Code offences or any Kelowna city bylaws,” the lawsuit claims.

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When Russell did eventually get out of the vehicle, the document claims, the two officers had total control over his movements even though he “was never a threat to the RCMP officers’ safety.”

Court documents allege that Const. Siggy Pietrzak then came running.

READ MORE: Police watchdog investigating Kelowna RCMP response to fatal collision

“Without any hesitation, he began punching the plaintiff repeatedly, causing the plaintiff lacerations, damage to his nose, cuts on his face, facial bruising, swelling and excessive bleeding, as well as damage to his ribs,” the lawsuit reads.

The civil suit also alleges that Russell was handcuffed and “for no legal reason” taken to the detachment, where a bag was placed over his head and he was strapped to a chair.

“The plaintiff complained about feeling pain in his ribs and his face, and while blood was dripping from his face, the officers refused to provide medical attention to the plaintiff,” according to the allegations.

Russell was then taken to the hospital but allegedly never seen by a doctor, according to the lawsuit.

“The plaintiff was placed in a small room with Kelowna General Hospital security and strapped to a radiator so that he was unable to leave.”

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The lawsuit alleges that security tried to shove Russell out of the back door of the hospital, and then pulled him out through the front door.

Russell was never charged with an offence.

A statement of defence has not been filed and none of the allegations has been proven in court.

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After the witness video surfaced shortly after the incident, RCMP Supt. Brent Mundle told reporter that Russell was arrested for obstruction and struggled with police officers, and that the video only illustrates one short moment during the arrest.

“The officer involved (Pietrzak) remains assigned to administrative duties,” Staff Sgt. Janelle Shoihet said in an email. “Duty status is subject to continual review and assessment.”

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READ MORE: Charges approved against 3 B.C. RCMP officers following 2016 violent arrest

“Given this matter is now before the court, and subject to an on-going statutory and code of conduct investigations, it would really be inappropriate for us to comment.”

Russell is seeking punitive damages against the RCMP and Pietrzak.

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“As a direct, foreseeable and proximate result of the RCMP and Pietrzak’s unlawful actions, the plaintiff has suffered emotional distress, humiliation, shame and embarrassment all to the plaintiff’s damage,” according to the lawsuit.

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