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An image taken from a video taken by the father of the arrested man shows an RCMP officer placing his knee on his neck to restrain him during his arrest, August 1, 2019. (File photo)
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The accusation of voice made against a Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) officer who held a man on the ground by pressing his knee on his neck for more than three minutes during an arrest in Winnipeg has been suspended.
Crown prosecutor Rustyn Ullrich said prosecutors made the decision after a thorough review of the case during a hearing before Provincial Court Judge Brent Stewart on Nov. 3.
The charge stemmed from an incident captured on cellphone video on August 1, 2019, outside Richardson International Airport in Winnipeg, where a police officer is seen putting down his knee on the neck of a man on the ground during an arrest, while the latter begs him to let him breathe.
The policeman of the RCMP was charged with assault in 2022, following an assessment by the Manitoba Independent Investigation Unit.
The Crown is no longer convinced that there is a reasonable probability of conviction, and that is why we will stay the proceedings, said Mr. Ullrich.
By email, a spokesperson for the province notes that the prosecution was compromised by the fact that Judge Brent Stewart raised credibility issues surrounding the testimony of the arrested man as well as the fact that surveillance footage shows that the latter was aggressive before his arrest.
The Crown's review of the video, the fact that [the man] was not found credible during his testimony and that he was considered the aggressor support the Crown's conclusion that there is no reasonable likelihood of conviction against the officer.
The explanation for the suspension of the charge does not convince the former director of Ontario's Special Investigations Unit, Ian Scott, who has reviewed the details of the case. p>
He deplores that this decision sends a very disturbing message. If I were a Manitoban, I would wonder if there isn't a double standard when it comes to police pursuits.
This is a case that could be judged almost exclusively on the basis of the video, which is fairly indisputable evidence. There are a lot of cases that go to trial where there are problems with the victims or the plaintiffs, Ian Scott argues.
Just because someone is aggressive at first doesn't mean police are allowed to use disproportionate force in response.
At the arrested man's trial, Provincial Court Judge Dave Mann found him guilty of assaulting a man at the airport and the two officers who responded to the airport. ;incident, but acknowledged that his right to personal safety was violated during his arrest due to the length of time the officer's knee remained on his neck.
Former head of Ontario's Special Investigations Unit says arrest video begs for explanation.
I think this could erode public trust in the province.
A quote by Ian Scott, former director of the Ontario Special Investigations Unit
There is no reason to withdraw this charge and , with this video, it will be very difficult for the public to understand why this case was not the subject of a trial, he concludes.
An RCMP spokesperson confirmed that, while the officer in question had been assigned to administrative duties following the arrest, he has since returned to duty. However, she did not indicate whether he returned to service even before the prosecution was dropped.
With information from Caitlyn Gowriluk and Anne-Louise Michel