Staff Sgt. Leonard McCoshen was called to the stand on June 23, as an expert witness on the use of force during an assault trial for a Kelowna RCMP officer.
McCoshen stated that he believes Const. Siggy Pietrzak did not have to strike Tyler Russell in order to complete an arrest on May 30, 2020.
Pietrzak was charged with assault in April 2021, almost a year after an arrest downtown Kelowna was caught on camera. In the footage, the accused appears to repeatedly punch a man who is being placed under arrest by several Mounties.
Const. David Carter testified earlier in the trial that he verbally placed Tyler Russell under arrest for obstruction of justice after Russell failed to comply with his order to take a breathalyzer test under suspicion that he intended to drive a vehicle.
It was later discovered that Russell did not possess the keys to the vehicle he was sitting in.
Carter claimed that the complainant “raised his voice” while Carter was attempting to give him instructions and he then called for backup.
He attempted to handcuff the complainant and a struggle ensued. Shortly after, Const. Donahue arrived to assist in the arrest.
Without being dispatched, Const. Pietrzak then arrived on the scene and ran towards the officers without asking for or being given direction.
“He used closed hand strikes to Mr. Russell’s face,” said Carter.
Carter said that while Russell’s face was being struck, he started bleeding.
He then said that Russell never hit, kicked or injured himself or any of the other officers but was resisting arrest.
“He just said that he would not go to the ground,” said Carter.
McCoshen alleges that while the punches delivered by Pietrzak did bring Russell to the ground, they were unnecessary as three capable officers were present to complete the arrest.
“Force can be effective but not appropriate,” said Staff Sgt. McCoshen, who is a use of force expert.
“With a coordinated effort, he could have been taken to the ground using techniques other than strikes.”
McCoshen said that the use of force is inconsistent with RCMP standards.
Conversely, Kelowna watch commander Martin Trudeau alleged the incident was “nothing out of the ordinary,” when he was called as a witness earlier in the trial.
Staff Sgt. Janelle Shoihet confirmed that Pietrzak remains suspended with pay. She said that his duty status remains subject to ongoing review and assessment and the code of conduct investigation is also ongoing.
The trial for the RCMP officer will resume on July 21.