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Chief ‘disturbed’ by new video of officer

Police board chairman says situation warrants analysis of body cameras

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A Winnipeg Police Service officer who made local headlines while not wearing a face mask in a recorded interaction is getting international attention.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 15/12/2020 (775 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

A Winnipeg Police Service officer who made local headlines while not wearing a face mask in a recorded interaction is getting international attention.

A second video, also posted on social media and believed to have been taken before the COVID-19 pandemic, is now the subject of a TMZ story.

It shows an officer arguing with and repeatedly saying “bye” to a man who repeatedly asks “Why are you looking in my truck?”

RUTH BONNEVILLE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Winnipeg police Chief, Danny Smyth: “Of course, that’s not the kind of conduct that we want to model…"

The WPS officer warns he could call for backup, noting: “Then things go real bad, eh?”

The officer steps close to the man at times and raises his voice. Both the officer and the man accuse each other of making threats and at times speak over each other. The man steps back from the officer at one point and says he could take the matter to court.

The officer asks the man to leave and at one point says: “When I get to five, you’re in cuffs, eh?” He also says he doubts the man actually owns the vehicle.

Last week, Winnipeg Police Service noted its professional standards unit will conduct a review of the mask incident video. Now, police Chief Danny Smyth said that review will probe the second video being shared as well.

“Of course, that’s not the kind of conduct that we want to model… The professional standards unit will go through all of it and, if there are other instances to be looked at, they’ll look at all of that,” said Smyth.

The police chief described the second video as “definitely inappropriate” and said he’s concerned the discussion involved “almost racist overtones.” He said penalties for code of conduct investigations can range up to dismissal, depending on the findings.

“I was disturbed by what I saw in that second video, for sure,” said Smyth.

The police chief said he is concerned about the image of the Winnipeg Police Service, following the video some commenters allege displays an abuse of authority.

“Really, it becomes challenging for our front-line members who are out in the field doing their job with this as a backdrop.”

He stressed the incidents don’t reflect the conduct of the vast majority of police officers.

The video of the face mask incident indicates the officer had issued a warning to a driver involved for allegedly failing to switch lanes while passing an emergency vehicle with its lights on.

A female passenger questioned the officer on why he wasn’t wearing a mask. Following the questions, the officer notes the driver will get a ticket.

Smyth said requiring police to wear body cameras could still be explored as a way to increase transparency but would also cost millions of dollars to implement.

“I guess it comes down to a cost benefit… You’ve watched us wrangle our budget here and it’s not going to get any easier as we go along,” said Smyth.

Coun. Markus Chambers, chairman of the Winnipeg Police Board, said he’d like the city to analyze the cost and potential benefits of body cameras, which he said could capture the full length of police interactions.

“I think it provides greater context in terms of the full video and (ensures) that it’s not just one-sided. It protects citizens, in terms of the transactions between police officers, and, in some cases, it also protects the police officers, where some of these alleged incidents are not actually factual in their representation based on a 15-second video,” said Chambers.

Smyth, as well as multiple social media posts, referred to the officer in question as Patrol Sgt. Kevin Smith. The allegations against him have not been proven.

Court documents show a judge previously ruled Smith unlawfully searched a man’s bag during a traffic stop in January 2015, while a fellow officer was deemed to have injured the man’s nose. The documents state Smith told the judge he was searching the bag to ensure it did not contain any weapons.

joyanne.pursaga@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @joyanne_pursaga

Joyanne Pursaga

Joyanne Pursaga
Reporter

Born and raised in Winnipeg, Joyanne loves to tell the stories of this city, especially when politics is involved. Joyanne became the city hall reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press in early 2020.

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