RCMP officer charged with assault for knee on man’s neck in 2019 airport arrest
Read this article for free:
Already have an account? Log in here »
To continue reading, please subscribe:
Monthly Digital Subscription
$4.75 per week*
- Enjoy unlimited reading on winnipegfreepress.com
- Read the E-Edition, our digital replica newspaper
- Access News Break, our award-winning app
- Play interactive puzzles
*Billed as $19.00 plus GST every four weeks. Cancel anytime.
Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 29/08/2022 (210 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
An RCMP officer has been charged with assault after a 2019 arrest at Winnipeg’s airport led to an accusation of using excessive force by holding his knee to the man’s neck.
A pair of Mounties, including now-accused Const. Eric Gerein, had been called to the airport for a report of an intoxicated man on Aug. 1, 2019, where they encountered Nathan Lasuik, of Fort McMurray, Alta. Video played in court showed him lying helpless on the ground, his neck pinned by the officer.
Lasuik repeatedly said “I can’t breathe” in the cellphone video recorded by his father, who testified the officer held his knee to Lasuik’s neck for nearly five minutes until Winnipeg police officers arrived to arrest him.
Lasuik was accused of assaulting a man following a dispute in the arrival area and assaulting the two Mounties who responded to the incident. He later pleaded guilty to two counts and was found guilty of the third before he was given a conditional discharge and a year of supervised probation last December.
Manitoba RCMP reported the allegation of excessive force to the Independent Investigation Unit on Aug. 11 2021, a day after a Free Press report on Lasuik’s trial.
After the video came to light, former Manitoba RCMP commander Assistant Commissioner Jane MacLatchy described it as “very disturbing,” and said the force “does not teach nor endorse any technique where RCMP officers place a knee on the head or neck.”
At trial, Gerein initially testified he had his knee against Lasuik’s shoulder, as he was trained, and admitted to the neck pin only after being shown the cellphone video under cross-examination.
The IIU’s civilian director, Zane Tessler, said Monday he is satisfied there are reasonable grounds to believe a crime occurred during the arrest, authorizing an assault charge against Gerein.
He has been issued a provincial court summons for Sept. 26 to face the charge.
Lasuik, his wife and their young children flew to Winnipeg for a funeral and to visit family August 1, 2019, when Lasuik became embroiled in a dispute outside the terminal with a man angry that Lasuik’s father would not move his car, court heard last August.
Lasuik alleged a man waiting to load his car in the arrival area “got quite perturbed” about where Lasuik’s father had parked and, during a subsequent exchange, threatened his family and children.
Lasuik testified he kicked the man in the thigh and shoved him in the face, knocking his glasses off.
RCMP constables Slobodan Dukic and Gerein testified Lasuik was in an agitated state, shouting one moment and calm the next.
Security video shows Lasuik at one point standing with the two constables and an airport manager when, Lasuik alleges, Gerein “became the agitator. I felt he was trying to scare and intimidate me.”
Security video showed Lasuik striking Gerein in the face, knocking him backward, before quickly jumping into his father’s car.
The two officers tried to pull a resisting Lasuik from the car and delivered several blows to his hands, face and body before Lasuik gave up, Dukic testified.
Then, while standing handcuffed, security video showed Lasuik kicking at Gerein.
Moments later, Dukic was leading Lasuik away when Lasuik lunged at Gerein and the two officers took him to the ground.
The cellphone video shows Gerein pinning the side of his neck to the ground with his knee, while Dukic pinned his midsection, and the airport manager held his legs.
According to a statement from the RCMP, Gerein is still an active duty member of the RCMP.
The National Police Federation also declined to comment on the charges.
Erik Pindera reports for the city desk, with a particular focus on crime and justice.
Updated on Monday, August 29, 2022 3:39 PM CDT: pushed writethru