A Kelowna police officer who was acquitted of assault charges in court will face a code of conduct hearing relating to a caught-on-camera 2020 violent arrest.
Const. Siggy Pietrzak has been suspended with pay since being charged with assault in April of 2021. The charges came almost a year after being involved in an arrest that was filmed by witnesses, where he appeared to repeatedly punch Tyler Russell in the head.
After a day of partying on May 2020, Russell was placed under arrest for obstruction of justice after refusing to take a breathalyzer test but was later released with no charges. Russell had no intention and no keys to drive the parked vehicle he was seated in when he was approached by Const. David Carter.
During the assault trial, Russell took the stand, and said that he was “wrongly arrested.” He did agree that he was non-compliant during the arrest, since he didn’t know why he was being arrested, but denied allegations that he was aggressive at any time.
Use of force expert Staff Sgt. Leonard McCoshen testified that Pietrzak did not have to strike Russell to complete the arrest since there were three officers present.
“With a coordinated effort, he could have been taken to the ground using techniques other than strikes,” said McCoshen, explaining that the use of force is inconsistent with RCMP standards.
While on the stand during the assault trial, Pietrzak maintained that the force he used was proportional to the arrest.
Pietrzak said he delivered a total of approximately four strikes to Russell’s head, stopping when Russell “went limp” and fell to the ground, where he could be handcuffed.
Pietrzak was acquitted of assault charges after the judge ruled that his behaviour was “shocking” and “imperfect,” but “reasonable.”
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 ongoing.
A code of conduct hearing for Pietrzak will be held on April 3 at 9a.m. at the Delta Hotel by Mariott Grand Okanagan Resort, in Kelowna. He is facing allegations under section 5.1 of the RCMP code of conduct which states that “members use only as much force as is reasonably necessary in the circumstances,” and two allegations under section 7.1 which states that “members behave in a manner that is not likely to discredit the Force.”