The Kelowna Mountie caught on video kicking a man being arrested in the head has been suspended with pay pending the outcome of criminal and internal code-of-conduct investigations.
The RCMP said Monday that the suspect was involved in a domestic violence incident prior to his arrest, a new development in the case that has bewildered the man's friends and family.
In the disturbing video posted on the Internet, a plainclothes RCMP officer can be seen kicking 51-year-old Buddy Tavares while he is on his hands and knees. The video also shows Mr. Tavares's battered face and a bloodstain on the pavement.
After the video surfaced Friday afternoon, the officer involved was placed on administrative duties while awaiting Monday's suspension decision. The RCMP have not released his name.
Kelowna RCMP Superintendent Bill McKinnon said at a press conference that if the officer is found to have violated the RCMP's code of conduct, he could be dismissed from the force. He could also be charged with a crime, depending on the outcome of the criminal investigation, which will be conducted by the Abbotsford Police Department.
Shortly after Friday's arrest, police said officers were responding to a call that an employee of Kelowna's Harvest Golf Club was on the grounds firing a gun. Mr. Tavares is on disability leave from the club while he recovers from a brain injury suffered in a motorcycle accident.
One of his duties at the club was to use a shotgun to scare away geese, but police say he did not have permission to do so Friday.
The first mention of a domestic violence accusation came at Monday's press conference. Supt. McKinnon said that the charge of careless use of a firearm laid against Mr. Tavares is "in relation to a domestic violence situation" that is part of the same incident as the events at the golf club, but he refused to provide any other details.
The news came as a surprise to Mr. Tavares's ex-wife, Trudi Tavares, who also works at the golf course and spent Monday at the Kelowna courthouse awaiting the release of her ex-husband.
Ms. Tavares said she is still on good terms with Mr. Tavares and had lunch with him on Thursday. The couple legally separated a little more than a year ago.
Ms. Tavares said she was at the golf course Friday when Mr. Tavares arrived. "He didn't have a gun or anything. He didn't threaten me, he walked right by me."
She added that she left the golf course to run errands shortly after Mr. Tavares's arrival, and wasn't there when shots were allegedly fired.
Ms. Tavares said that she was "absolutely not" a victim of violence at the hands of her ex-husband, adding that, to her knowledge, he does not have another wife or girlfriend.
Neither Mr. Tavares's sister, Angela Behiels, nor his best friend, Ken Albert, had any knowledge of Mr. Tavares seeing someone romantically.
"I don't know anything about that," Mr. Albert said when told of the domestic violence accusation.
Ms. Behiels flew to Kelowna from Edmonton Monday morning to support her brother. She described what she saw on the video as "sickening."
"Even if Buddy was doing something wrong, that shouldn't have happened," she said.
After being held in custody over the weekend, Mr. Tavares was released on bail late Monday afternoon without a hearing.
His lawyer, Clarke Burnett, said he didn't yet have details about the domestic violence accusation.
He said Mr. Tavares is in good spirits but looks a little rough.
"He's got a fairly significant black right eye. He's got some scabbing around his face," he said.
Special to The Globe and Mail
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