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Mantler trial: Police expert says Tavares 'not significant enough a threat' to warrant kick to head
A brief flinch of Buddy Tavares' hands as he went onto all fours when being arrested by Const. Geoff Mantler "is not significant enough a threat to precipitate" the kick Mantler gave to Tavares' head, an expert in police use of force testified Thursday afternoon.
The court also heard that the arrest was botched from the beginning, as Mantler did not follow police training when he stopped Tavares' truck on Jan. 7, 2011 after receiving a report of shots fired at the Harvest Golf Club.
Sgt. Jeremy Lane, an Abbotsford police officer giving expert opinion about police use of force in the trial, said that Mantler, while still alone, got out and approached Tavares truck after stopping it.
"That would not be in accordance with [police] training," said Lane.
"Did that action put Const. Mantler at risk?" asked Crown counsel William Burrows.
"Yes, it certainly did."
"Once you leave your position of cover...you leave yourself vulnerable as you approach that vehicle," said Lane. "The problem you have there...things get complicated very quickly if we don't follow our training."
Police are trained ideally to wait for backup before making a high risk arrest and then to remain with their vehicle and give commands to the suspect over their PA to get out and then crawl to the police vehicles to be handcuffed.
Instead, Mantler placed himself closer to the driver, who was believed to be armed, and was also faced with another officer who arrived soon after standing at the passenger window. That created a cross-fire situation for the officers, said Lane.
Once Tavares got out of the vehicle, Mantler should have been creating distance between himself and Tavares, as the "reactionary gap" was dangerous for the officer, said Lane.
As Tavares got out of the truck, Mantler could be heard telling Tavares to "get down," instructions Lane indicated were not as clear as they should be.
While Mantler knew what he was instructing Tavares to do, Tavares "may or may not have know what that meant."
Lane also said the five seconds between Tavares getting out of his truck and the time he was kicked was "not an unreasonable amount of time for Mr. Tavares to be getting down.
Cross-examination of Lane is expected Friday. His opinions are based on materials used to train RCMP officers and materials gathered to support recommending the criminal charge of assault causing bodily harm. He did not have a statement or report from Mantler to use when coming to his conclusions.