An RCMP officer being sued by a Kelowna, B.C., man who was repeatedly punched in the head during an arrest earlier this year denies the claims and says he was justified in his actions.
RCMP Const. Siggy Pietrzak says in his filed response to Tyler Russell's civil claim in B.C. Supreme Court that he was justified in his delivery of the punches, after seeing his fellow officers struggle to arrest the man, who was "larger and stronger" than they were.
Russell's lawsuit also names Canada's attorney general and the B.C. Minister of Justice as defendants.
The attorney general, who filed his response Sept. 8, also denies the bulk of the allegations in the claim.
Russell claims in court documents that he sustained "multiple lacerations to his face, damage to his nose, bruising of his face and bruising of his ribs" during the arrest on May 30.
He claims the assault left him with "serious injuries and consequences, including: post-traumatic stress disorder, diminished self-worth, depression, anxiety and loss of enjoyment of life," among other challenges.
Two videos of the arrest surfaced in June showing an officer punching Russell in the head at least 10 times while two other RCMP officers restrained him.
In the civil claim, Russell says he was sitting in the passenger seat of his work vehicle when police officers approached him and demanded he get out of the vehicle and provide a breath sample.
Russell refused as he was not driving and did not have the vehicle's keys in his possession, according to the lawsuit.
The civil suit says Russell was never a threat to the RCMP officers. He was not charged after the arrest.
The attorney general's account of events presented some additional information, including how Russell was sitting in his pickup truck sweating, with pasty lips and erratic eyes, causing the first officer at the scene to suspect he was under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol.
None of the allegations presented in the civil claim or the two responses have been proven in court.
According to documents filed by the attorney general, Russell had a strong odour of alcohol on his breath, was argumentative and verbally aggressive when a breath sample was requested, resisted arrest, and engaged an officer in a physical struggle causing the officer to fear for his safety.
After the three officers arrested Russell, RCMP found a half empty bottle of hard alcohol in the truck, a glass pipe with unburned white powder, believed to be cocaine or methamphetamine, along with more white powder in his wallet, according to the attorney general's response.
The response says the RCMP officers breached no charter rights, acted in good faith, without malice, and any force used was reasonable and justified in law, leaving no basis for any award of damages.
Further, it says the plaintiff acted with negligence for failing to comply with the directions of officers, causing or contributing to any injuries he suffered.
Both the attorney general and Pietrzak request that the claim be dismissed with costs.