Excessive force or quality policing?

RCMP superintendent Brent Mundle answers questions from the Kelowna media, Tuesday.

KELOWNA — A video circulating on social media showing a Kelowna Mountie punching a combative driver doesn’t tell the full story, Kelowna's top cop said Tuesday. Nevertheless, RCMP have launched an investigation into the incident.

The 12-second video filmed by a passerby shows two Kelowna Mounties wrestling with a man in a local parking lot on Saturday. A third Mountie drives up, gets out of his car, runs to the scene and starts punching the man in the face repeatedly.

“I recognize that the tactics seen in this video are shocking to many people. Anytime an officer is required to apply a use of force option during an arrest it can appear disturbing,” said Kelowna RCMP superintendent Brent Mundle in a statement he read at a news conference Tuesday at the detachment.

“It is always our intention to enact a peaceful arrest, but when circumstances require it, officers may be required to use other options. This may include use of physical force.

“It is for this reason our officers are trained to conduct a continual risk assessment of the situation, as often these decisions are required in a split second,” he said. The video doesn’t show what led up to the Mountie’s actions, Mundle said.

“The man was arrested for obstruction, but allegedly struggled with the officers by pulling away, clenching his fists and refusing to follow commands. Because of the difficulty in safely bringing the man under control, the officers requested a third member attend the scene. “When the third officer arrived, he observed that the man was still resisting arrest. In order to gain control of the situation, and for the safety of the officers, he was struck several times and was then taken to the ground and handcuffed,” Mundle said.

In a question-and-answer session after reading his statement, Mundle acknowledged “in the short duration of the video, the action is concerning,” but said the full arrest needs to be considered. Mundle also acknowledged the investigation and news conference might never have happened had there not been a video of the incident.

RCMP officers do not wear body cameras. Police were responding to a complaint of an intoxicated man in a vehicle in the 200 block of Bernard Avenue about 6:30 p.m. The 30-year-old man was taken to the RCMP detachment, then to hospital to deal with his non-life-threatening injuries, Mundle said. He is not currently in custody.

Mundle said the officers’ actions will be investigated internally, including a Code of Conduct investigation, to make sure proper procedures were followed. This is not the kind of case B.C.’s Independent Investigations Office looks into, Mundle said.

The Mountie and the victim weren’t named, but Mundle said the cop has been with the Kelowna detachment for three years. The officer wasn’t at work on Tuesday and his future status while the investigation is ongoing has not been determined. An investigation continues into the alleged impairment case as well.