Mantler accuser takes the stand
Jul 10, 2012 / 5:00 am
Manjiet Singh Bhatti explained to the court how he was smashed in the face by an RCMP officer after being arrested back in August, 2010.
That mountie was allegedly Cst. Geoff Mantler, who has been charged with assault causing bodily harm stemming from the incident.
Bhatti, a 36-year-old with a history of criminal charges including possession of stolen property, took the stand Monday to explain what happened the night he was assaulted.
Originally from Prince George, Bhatti was visiting Kelowna, staying at the Days Inn Hotel, as he helped a friend set up a new clothing store. Bhatti explained he had a history of substance abuse, but has been on methadone since October of 2011.
The night before he was arrested, he borrowed a friends broke-down mountain bike to go down town. While down town, Bhatti bought some crack cocaine and smoked it with a girl around 11 p.m. Bhatti explained the high lasts around five minutes, and makes people feel full of energy or adrenaline.
Bhatti had bought drugs on the street in the past, and says he has been robbed before so he put his money in his sock as a precaution. The victim claimed he had $375 in his wallet for his rent and $100 in his sock for his night out.
After smoking the last of the crack cocaine around midnight, Bhatti rode his bike around town looking for another high. He came across another dealer outside the TD Bank on Ellis. Bhatti explains that he then asks three people for drugs, one of the men in the group claims to have drugs and takes Bhatti down an alley. Bhatti tells the court, something didn't feel right, he felt like he was about to be robbed so he jumped on his bike and rode away.
According to the victim, he rode through the parking lot of the TD Bank and turned down an alley where a car pulled in front of him. Someone yelled from the car for him to stop, but Bhatti says he yelled he was going to the store, where there was light.
Bhatti says he thinks the car may have been a police car, but he didn't think the people were yelling at him and were instead calling for the dealers, who were behind him, to stop.
Mantler's lawyer Nevel McDougall asks Bhatti why he didn't stop for the police and tell them he thought he was going to be robbed. Bhatti replied he didn't think the police were calling to him, but were on their way to stop the dealers.
The victim turned out of the alley and continued down Ellis toward Harvey on the bike. He says he turned around and saw flashing red and blue lights, and knew the police were after him. According to Bhatti he jumped off his bike and threw his hands up in the air.
Bhatti was then arrested by one officer and placed against the police car. The arresting officer, apparently walked down the road to pick up the bike Bhatti had been riding.
Bhatti, who cannot see without his glasses, says he heard someone else running toward him and believes it was another officer who had been sitting in the passenger seat.
The victim was then struck in the face with something hard, he fell to the ground losing his glasses. The arresting officer, picked up the victim and put him in the back of the police car. Bhatti says he was badly injured and wanted to know why he had been hit.
According to the victim, the officer who allegedly administered the blow, told Bhatti he did it because, " Your a stupid crack head Hindu - goof".
Bhatti allegedly was taken to the Kelowna detachment and left without medical care overnight. He was never charged, but instead fined several hundred dollars for offences stemming from riding a poorly kept bike and riding without a helmet. He claims he was sober at the time of the arrest.
The arresting officer apparently told Bhatti that his glasses would be fixed, however they were returned to the victim still broken. Bhatti also complained that his wallet was missing when he went to retrieve his items the morning of his release. He was told by another officer to file a complaint, which he did.
Bhatti says he went to a downtown walk in clinic for 'street people' to have his injuries looked at by a doctor. He says his eye was swollen shut for four weeks and he had to go to Kelowna General Hospital for a CAT scan.
The 36-year-old explained his different facial injuries to the court using a photo of himself taken the night of the arrest. The photo depicts a disheveled scruffy faced man, a much different person then the clean shaven short haired Bhatti who sat on the stand Monday.
After the incident, Bhatti says he returned to Prince George to continue helping his friend move down to Kelowna to open his business. Although Bhatti claims that his eye was swollen shut, he says he drove to Prince George and back several times over a period of 20 days.
The Bhatti trial continues Tuesday.
Buddy Tavares was among those interested spectators in the gallery Monday morning.
Tavares is at the centre of another high profile assault case involving Mantler.
Mantler was caught on tape kicking Tavares in the face during an arrest in January, 2011.
That case goes to trial November 26.
Mantler has been suspended without pay by the RCMP.
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