An RCMP officer who was embroiled in an argument about an undercooked hamburger at a Kamloops McDonalds restaurant in 2016 has had his punishment overturned and legal costs refunded following an appeal.
On April 12, 2016, Const. Michael Muller, while off-duty, went to the McDonald’s in Sahali, off Notre Dame Drive and placed an order at the counter.
Upon receiving his food, Muller examined his burger and complained to staff that it was undercooked.
Video surveillance footage, which did not have audio, showed the restaurant manager pick the burger up from the counter with his left hand and move it into his right hand while Muller was attempting to take a photograph of it.
Muller grabbed the manager’s left wrist, pulling him for about a second before the manager dropped the burger on the floor. Muller then walked around the counter, picked up the patty and photographed it.
The manager opted to refund Muller, who decided to leave, but not before engaging in “an animated discussion with the staff,” Federal Court Justice Russel Zinn noted in a written judgment.
Police were called and, later that month, Muller was docked two days’ pay for breaching the RCMP’s code of conduct by disrespecting McDonald’s employees and using inappropriate force when dealing with the manager of the restaurant.
Muller was also charged with assault, but the Crown stayed that charge.
Muller appealed the finding that he used inappropriate force, having said he reacted with “the least amount of force necessary” to prevent the manager from taking away the burger, intended no harm and caused no injury to the manager.
“I simply reacted to him taking away my product I had paid for. Had he not taken away the patty, I would have never grabbed his wrist,” Muller said, according to the court decision.
Justice Zinn sided with Muller, stating the manager’s actions in taking the burger without explanation was the immediate cause of the incident and cannot be overlooked.
“Mr. Muller’s reaction was involuntary – it was minor and of short duration,” Zinn wrote. “Had he continued to hold onto the manager longer, then it might reasonably be said that the action was inappropriate; however, I am unable to see how any reasonable person knowing all of the facts would view his involuntary reaction to having his burger removed as inappropriate.”
Muller was awarded his legal fees, totalling $5,000, and one of his lost days of pay.
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