The Mounties have been called in to investigate how Winnipeg police officers handled the arrest of a young man last year after video was played in court this week showing them hitting the teen as he lay on the ground.

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The Mounties have been called in to investigate how Winnipeg police officers handled the arrest of a young man last year after video was played in court this week showing them hitting the teen as he lay on the ground.

The announcement came Friday after the surveillance tape was made public during the sentencing hearing for Cody Bousquet.

In February, he took a Ford F150 truck from in front of a Smith Street bar before ramming into a police cruiser, cutting across a crowded downtown sidewalk and crashing into a parked car and light standard.

Bousquet, then 18 , zoomed off toward a Notre Dame Avenue auto parts store, where officers arrested him in front of a parking lot surveillance camera. Footage of the incident shows six officers surrounding Bousquet, some using their arms and knees to strike the teen. He was also Tasered twice.

 

 

 

 

One of those officers, Const. Ryan Law, indicated in his notes that police tried to make Bousquet calm down with clear verbal commands and only used force after Bousquet struggled and swung at police.

However, Crown prosecutor Mick Makar told Judge Ray Wyant at the sentencing hearing Thursday that the footage may have helped Bousquet avoid jail time.

Makar said problems with the case led him to submit a joint recommendation with Bousquet's lawyer, Dan Manning, to drop most of the charges against Bousquet and ask that he serve no more jail time.

"There is some concern here. There are some exigencies," Makar said. "Otherwise, in those factual circumstances, I would dare say that he would be looking... at a penitentiary term."

Seven charges against Bousquet were dropped Thursday, including stealing a motor vehicle over $5,000 and two counts of assault with a weapon.

He was sentenced to 11 months time served for two counts of assaulting a peace officer and one count of operating a motor vehicle in a dangerous manner. He will have two years of supervised probation.

The two counts of assault relate to Bousquet driving toward two officers, Law and Sean Prawdzik, after they pulled up in an unmarked cruiser next to the truck and tried to make Bousquet get out.

After he failed to hit them, officers followed Bousquet as he drove off erratically and then arrested him after he eventually pulled over on Notre Dame near Isabel Street.

Makar said Bousquet's earlier actions meant that officers hearts were "probably racing."

"The officers are attempting to get him down on the ground. He's resisting, according to them. He's trying to put his hands underneath his stomach."

However, Manning said the video clearly shows his client wasn't resisting arrest. "What I saw was somebody that looked like they were going to the ground."

The judge heard that Bousquet was heavily inebriated at the time of the arrest and later woke up in hospital.

Winnipeg police said late Friday the video was turned over to the court after police investigators discovered it.

Following the video's release, they've asked the RCMP to investigate the matter. Winnipeg police Chief Keith McCaskill removed himself from the case because Law is his nephew.

Law already faces a charge of assault for the alleged beating of Henry Lavallee in a Public Safety Building interview room in November 2008. After the constable's arrest in June, he was placed on administrative leave.

Manning said he was happy to hear of the RCMP investigation and his client is considering a civil suit against police. He said Law's notes are clearly contradicted by the contents of the surveillance footage.

"It's only now they're referring it to the RCMP? The guy was in jail for 11 months," Manning said.

Bousquet's face was swollen to twice its normal size after his arrest, the lawyer said.

Winnipeg Police Association president Mike Sutherland said police turned over the tape because officers had nothing to hide.

Suspects can pose a risk to police if their hands are not visible, because they could be grasping a weapon.

"The video is not complete in terms of showing every angle of what the suspect's activities weren't or were," he said.

"At the end of the day, I would expect the officers are going to protect themselves to make sure that the individual is going to be handcuffed quickly so he doesn't pose any further threat."

gabrielle.giroday@freepress.mb.ca