Judge deems Penticton officers testimony not believable in trial

Judge decides Penticton man not guilty of assaulting Penticton RCMP officers or attempting to take a police firearm.

A former Penticton man has beat several serious charges after the judge did not find testimony from RCMP to be believable.

Kregan Feenstra appeared at Penticton provincial court on Monday to hear the judge’s decision in a lengthy trial that stemmed from charges laid just over five years ago. In July of 2007 Feenstra was accused of assaulting three police officers and attempting to take a police officers firearm during an incident that took place outside of the Mule nightclub.

“It does not mean Mr. Feenstra could not have done things a lot different and police could have done things a lot differently. I hope, in hindsight, that Mr. Feenstra and the police officers will make different choices or try alternative strategies to avoid something like this occurring again,” said Judge Brad Chapman.

Defence witnesses that countered the accusation that Feenstra was attempting to grab the RCMP officers service pistol was found to be “believable” by Chapman. The judge added he couldn’t “say the same of Const. Blazina’s evidence” who he said “minimized his own actions.”

Const. John Blazina testified they were asked by a bouncer to escort Feenstra away from the property and tried to subdue him.

Chapman said video evidence played a big role in the trial and concluded that Blazina’s testimony appeared to come more from what the officer saw on the video than what he actually recollected.

Const. Jean Lecki testified Feenstra walked towards RCMP “all fired up” yelling and swearing and that is when she told him he was under arrest. She said Feenstra was instructed to show his hands but instead started to back away. Blazina testified Feenstra had threw his arms in the air and said “fine I’ll go.” and walked past the officer pushing his arm as he walked rapidly towards the car. The officer responded no one gets in without getting searched and handcuffed first.

Const. Elliot Van Dusen saw the difficulty Blazina was having handcuffing the man, as he was now on the ground grappling with Feenstra, and decided to use a Taser. Police officers said the Taser was ineffective because one of the probes did not make contact with Feenstra who began a sweeping motion with his leg and was flailing his arms allegedly in a resistant manner. Chapman said in his decision that after viewing the video there were periods where Feenstra laid motionless under the officers and it wasn’t a continuous struggle.

Blazina testified he felt as though his holster was caught on, or was being tugged at, extremely hard and yelled “he is going for my gun.” Van Dusen said “I envisioned his head as a soccer ball” and kicked Feenstra four or five times. Differing opinions of the incident were given with Lecki testifying she had poor memory of the struggle and did not see Feenstra’s hand on the gun when she tried to handcuff him at this point. Van Dusen said he saw Feenstra’s hand at the butt end of the pistol, while Feenstra said he did not recall putting his hand on the gun.

Chapman found that if Feenstra did anything at all it was “incidental touching” and Feenstra’s actions on the ground were in reaction to the police officers using the Taser. Feenstra was eventually subdued, after being pepper sprayed, and the video showed his face covered in blood.

Defence council Brian Coleman told the Penticton Western News after the judge’s decision on Monday that the trial had taken so long because of a lack of resources, shortage of court time and both Crown and defence wanted to be thorough and fair in presenting the evidence.

Feenstra was found not guilty of causing a disturbance, willfully resisting or obstructing a peace officer, three counts of assaulting a police officer and one count of  taking or attempt to take the weapon of a peace officer.