Const. Geoff Mantler injured drug user Manjeet Bhatti while arresting him downtown. When Bhatti later asked Mantler why he hit him, Mantler said “You’re a stupid crackhead Hindu” and called him a goof, Bhatti said. Bhatti’s eye swelled up and took four weeks to heal. Mantler is the same person who was filmed kicking Buddy Tavares in the head while the innocent man laid down on the street. The cop was acquitted last Thursday of a second charge of assault causing bodily harm.
KELOWNA – An RCMP cop who beat up and injured an Indo-Canadian drug addict in the interior gets off scot free on a technicality even though the cop said he banged the victim’s head against the police car.
Presiding Judge Mark Takahashi ruled that Const. Geoff Mantler probably injured drug user Manjeet Bhatti while arresting him downtown, but the evidence was too thin to convict him of assault.
The Kelowna officer filmed kicking Buddy Tavares in the head was acquitted Thursday of a second charge of assault causing bodily harm. Takahashi found Bhatti’s evidence was unreliable and Mantler’s partner did a poor job of keeping notes, reported Kelowna’s The Daily Courier newspaper.
“I’m in the awkward position where I am quite certain that Const. Mantler caused the injuries. On the evidence admitted at trial, the injuries likely occurred when Const. Mantler was alone with Bhatti. But they may have also occurred when Const. Goodwin pushed Bhatti against the police car,” the judge said.
Bhatti testified he had smoked cracked cocaine and was looking for more after midnight Aug. 30, 2010. He thought a man he was buying from was about to rob him and he rode away on his bicycle as a police car pulled into the downtown alley.
Mantler yelled at him to stop but Bhatti ignored the command and kept riding to Harvey Avenue. He stopped when he realized police were chasing him, he said, and co-operated when Const. Rick Goodwin walked him to the police car.
As Goodwin went to retrieve Bhatti’s bike, Bhatti heard footsteps approaching and he was struck in the eye. His glasses went flying and his nose bled, he testified.
When Bhatti later asked Mantler why he hit him, Mantler said “You’re a stupid crackhead Hindu” and called him a goof, Bhatti said. His eye swelled up and took four weeks to heal.
His evidence was vague and unsure at times, the judge said. If he felt endangered in the alley, he should have stayed with the police car to protect himself from an attack.
Goodwin said Bhatti at first accused him of assault. When he denied it, Bhatti accused Mantler. Bhatti said he was bleeding profusely, yet there were no stains visible on his shirt, the judge said.
Goodwin said he took initial control of Bhatti and Mantler helped handcuff him. He couldn’t see Mantler with Bhatti when he placed the bicycle in the trunk, but heard no yelling or scuffling, he said. When he lowered the trunk lid, Bhatti was seated in the police car.
Goodwin picked up his glasses, which were bent and missing a lens. Goodwin said he may have pushed Bhatti’s head against the car while arresting him.
The judge admonished Goodwin for failing to make proper notes, especially when the complaint against Mantler was so serious. He suggested his loyalty toward Mantler may have tainted his evidence.
“It’s disappointing that a police officer who’s part of an organization whose members are often touted as being trained observers and professional witnesses would meekly concede he could have been the one who caused the injury to Mr. Bhatti,” Takahashi said.
Mantler gave a statement the judge couldn’t consider as evidence. He said he banged Bhatti’s head against the police car while Goodwin dealt with the bike because he thought Bhatti was going to spit at or hit him. The confession was admissible but the Crown never submitted it as evidence.
Neville McDougall, who defended Mantler, said later the prosecutor could only submit the statement if Mantler had testified.
To find Mantler guilty, the Crown has to prove he assaulted Bhatti beyond a reasonable doubt. Because Bhatti’s evidence was unreliable and Goodwin admitted he may have injured him, the judge had to acquit.
“The evidence in this case raises likelihoods and real concerns about the conduct of Const. Mantler. But those do not equate to proof beyond a reasonable doubt,” Takahashi said.
McDougall was pleased with the decision but surprised by the judge’s comments. He implied Mantler was probably responsible for Bhatti’s injury, McDougall said.
“I . . . thought it was a backhanded slap. The fact you say he may have caused those injuries does not mean that he committed an offence,” McDougall said.
Mantler faces trial in November for assaulting Buddy Tavares during an arrest in January 2011. Meanwhile, he could face internal RCMP
discipline for his role in Bhatti’s arrest.
McDougall said he expects the same result if the code-of-conduct
investigation goes ahead.
“I’d hope that even with this current regime of (RCMP) management, they will reconsider whether or not to prosecute this man internally.”
Mantler remains suspended from the force without pay. Several Mounties accompanied him for Thursday’s decision.
Courtesy The Daily Courier