A South Okanagan man on trial for a number of charges is claiming the Osoyoos RCMP officer who arrested him did so with unnecessary force.
Anthony Chester Bryant, 54, arrested on June 11, 2012 is charged with impaired driving, flight from a peace officer, willfully resisting or obstructing a peace officer, failing to stop when requested by police and failure or refusal to provide a breath sample.
His lawyer, Don Skogstad, said he would be calling evidence that shows Bryant was kicked and punched and witnesses told Const. Ian Patrick McNeil to stop.
The trial started with evidence being heard in front of a judge alone under a voir dire, a trial within a trial. Judge Gregory Koturbash said he would hear all the evidence held by Crown and defence before deciding what would be admissible.
Const. McNeil testified he heard two radio dispatches about a possibly impaired driver in a truck pulling a utility trailer when it drove past him.
He said the driver of the truck, Bryant, did not comply when he activated his lights and siren to pull over, even though there was opportunity to do so in a safe manner.
Bryant even did a u-turn to head back towards him and as the RCMP officers’ drivers-side window came in alignment with the truck McNeil said he yelled something to the effect of “stop the vehicle and pull over.”
Bryant allegedly drove off with McNeil in pursuit and eventually came to a stop by pulling into a driveway.
McNeil said when he pulled in behind the truck another officer arrived on scene.
He said he viewed Bryant as “high-risk” because he was not complying so he approached the driver’s side with his service pistol drawn.
McNeil said Bryant appeared impaired with glassy, blood-shot eyes and a strong odour of liquor was being emitted.
The officer demanded the driver show his hands and alleged Bryant said “What are you going to do shoot me?”
McNeil said Bryant did not exit the vehicle when asked and mumbled something in a slurred speech. He said Bryant then bent over and reached under his seat.
“I placed my hands on his, grabbed his hand and sweatshirt and I pulled him out of the vehicle and onto the ground,” said McNeil.
McNeil said he positioned himself on the driver’s back and there was a 20-30 second struggle where Bryant was trying to push up off the ground.
The second officer, who was standing at the passenger side, then came around to help handcuff Bryant.
McNeil said Bryant told RCMP he was “handcuffed and felt raped,” his handcuffs were too tight and he felt abused. The trial left off before defence council, Skogstad, could cross-examine McNeil. The trial continues Jan. 23, 2014.
Skogstad told the judge he would be calling on evidence from a person who on another date alleges a “starkly similar” incident happened, based on what he calls “similar fact evidence.”
“What the other case is about is a very similar incident with the same officer, where this individual, a small female, said she was similarly pulled out of her car and in this case her head was pushed onto the hood of the car so hard that she had a concussion,” said Skogstad, during an interview outside of the courthouse.
“We haven’t heard the evidence yet that we want to ask him about which is what happened on the ground?”
Skogstad is calling for judicial stay by virtue of the breach of Bryant’s rights.
The lawyer said it doesn’t happen that often but it has been allowed in the past and been recognized by the Supreme Court.
Fiona Munro confirmed she is the woman who will be testifying at the trial. She alleges that on Sept. 28, after leaving Sage Pub with a friend, an RCMP officer pulled her over. Due to previous dealings with McNeil, Munro asked to deal with another officer.
She alleges McNeil grabbed her by the ankles and dragged her out while she was screamed and cried for help. She alleges she was then assaulted.
“I don’t want this to happen to anyone else,” said Munro of why she decided to come forward with the allegations.
An RCMP press release said on Sept. 28 a car was pulled over for suspected impaired driving and the driver became uncooperative and attempted to walk away.
It states the woman driver fought with one officer and punched him in the ear and refused to provide a breath sample.
Munro is charged with wilfully resisting or obstructing a peace officer and assault of a peace officer.