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Kelowna Mountie's use of force during arrest unacceptable, sister says
VANCOUVER -- A pair of videos showing a Kelowna RCMP officer repeatedly striking a suspect being restrained by two other officers has sparked an investigation, questions from city leaders, and even condemnation from that officer’s sister.
Kym Pietrzak told CTV News that she saw the two videos on the news in Hamilton and was surprised to see the face of her brother, Const. Siggy Pietrzak.
“I thought it was horrible,” she told CTV News in an interview. “He rushed in too fast and it’s not OK.”
The 45-year-old officer has been a Mountie for about three years, and was formerly a nurse in Ontario, according to his sister. She is one of several people who identified Pietrzak in the videos.
Kelowna’s mayor also said he has questions and serious concerns about what happened, and is looking forward to a swift and thorough review of the incident.
“I expect the highest standards of conduct from our police and while we should all try to suspend judgement until a fulsome investigation is complete, it’s certainly difficult based on these images,” Colin Basran said in a statement to CTV News.
On Tuesday, Kelowna RCMP Supt. Brent Mundle said the officer throwing punches would face a code of conduct review, and would have his duty status examined.
“Obviously, in the short duration of the video, the action is concerning. But it’s important when I review these matters I can look at the whole incident,” he said.
On Thursday, Kelowna RCMP didn’t respond to questions about Pietrzak or his history while he’s been a Mountie. Pietrzak himself didn’t return phone calls.
The first video, obtained by Castanet, is about 12 seconds long, and shows two RCMP officers grappling with a blond man. A third Mountie comes running in and punches the suspect about 10 times.
The second video, shot by Tyson Gillies, shows a wider view from above, where Gillies was eating with friends on a nearby restaurant patio.
“I couldn’t help but feel disturbed by the whole situation,” Gillies said. “It could have been handled so many different ways than this.”
He said there’s no reason for an officer not to wait, take a breath, and figure out if there’s a way to resolve the situation without resorting to blows.
“Assess the situation before you act,” Gillies said.
Kelowna city councillor Mohini Singh said she also wanted answers.
“What I saw was extremely disturbing and it broke my heart to see that happening, especially at a time when North America is in such turmoil,” she said.
“My first thought was disappointment. But as a city councillor I want to know exactly what happened."