A Kelowna RCMP officer facing charges of assault while on-duty has filed an application with B.C. courts in an attempt to reduce his sentencing.
Const. Siggy Pietrzak was charged with assault in April 2021, almost a year after an arrest in downtown Kelowna was caught on camera. In the footage, Pietrzak appears to repeatedly punch a man who is being placed under arrest by two other officers.
His appearance on Aug. 30 was adjourned by a judge, and he will be back in court for both the assault and the application for the enforcement of guaranteed rights and freedoms on Sept. 20.
The application, also known as a Jordan, is imposed when a criminal case faces unreasonable delays. The ruling said people charged with an offence have the right to have their cases tried within 18 months in provincial courts and 30 months in superior courts.
Staff Sgt. Leonard McCoshen was called as an expert witness by the Crown in June 2022 for his work as a use-of-force expert and homicide investigator.
While on the stand, the use-of-force expert said that he believed Const. Siggy Pietrzak did not have to strike Tyler Russell in order to complete an arrest on May 30, 2020.
“Force can be effective but not appropriate,” said McCoshen.
McCoshen alleged while the punches delivered by Pietrzak did eventually bring Russell to the ground, they were unnecessary as three capable officers were present to complete the arrest.
Const. David Carter took the stand on May 24. He claimed he and Const. Donahue “were losing” in the struggle with Russell before Pietrzak arrived on the scene to assist in the arrest.
Carter and Donahue were attempting to arrest Russell for failure to comply with police orders to take a breathalyzer test. Russell was not in possession of the keys to his truck and alleges he was waiting for a ride when he was approached by officer Carter.
Russell refused to be handcuffed and raised his voice, which Carter alleges, requiring backup.
Pietrzak arrived on the scene to find Carter and Donahue struggling to place handcuffs on Russell. Pietrzak ran up to the arrest-in-progress.
“He used closed-hand strikes to Mr. Russell’s face,” said Carter.
The incident was captured on video by multiple witnesses.
McCoshen said that the use of force is inconsistent with RCMP standards.
Staff Sgt. Janelle Shoihet confirmed that Pietrzak remains suspended with pay. She said that his duty status remains subject to ongoing review and assessment and the code of conduct investigation is also ongoing.
The trial is expected to run for three more days taking place in September, October and December.