The trial for the alleged assault by Kelowna RCMP officer Siggy Pietrzak continued Thursday. The defence called on a retired Vancouver police officer and training supervisor to take the stand.
In the May 2020 incident, officers responded to the call of an intoxicated man. Two officers were first dispatched to the scene and Pietrzak was called for backup.
The arrest was caught on video and partial footage of the incident appears to show Tyler Russell struggling with two officers before a third officer runs up and strikes him repeatedly.
Pietrzak appears to be throwing punches in what was called a violent arrest. Pietrzak is accused of one count of assault on Russell.
Brad Fawcett is a use of force expert and testified on the hits used by Pietrzak in the 2020 incident.
Fawcett testified that the video does not show Pietrzak throwing punches that are maximum effort. He says the officer was using jabs and distraction strikes on Russell that were largely inefficient.
Fawcett iterated to the court that Pietrzak’s actions were consistent with policy and in line with training. Officers are taught they can use force in possible responses.
On Wednesday prosecutors questioned Pietrzak on his lack of communication with other officers and dispatch. Fawcett testified that in a high-pressure situation with other officers asking for backup, there isn’t time to ask about the situation.
“As a supervisor, I’d be shocked if that sort of conversation took place under those circumstances,” said Fawcett. He added that he would expect the third officer to immediately assist the others.
When cross-examined, prosecutors again noted there were not enough risk assessments or communication from Pietrzak. Fawcett told the court that verbal is not the only way officers communicate.
The videos of the incident were under examination again by the court. Questions were previously raised on whether or not Russell displayed assaultive behaviour. Fawcett testified that with Russell’s clenched fists and resistance to arrest, it may be indicative of a potential assault.
The Crown said Pietrzak did not have enough information on his behaviour and that clenched fists aren’t always a sign of assault.
A ruling is expected to be handed down in December.