RCMP thought it was a 'gunfight'

An RCMP officer testified in the Cst. Geoff Mantler trial Wednesday that he thought he was responding to a gunfight when he received an initial dispatch call on Jan. 7, 2011.

Cst. Kyle Boffy was one of the police officers testifying in the assault trial, which started Monday in Kelowna.

Mantler, a Kelowna RCMP officer, is facing a charge of assault causing bodily harm in the arrest of  Buddy Tavares on Jan. 7. Video taken that day by Kelly Hayes, a former Castanet.net reporter, shows Mantler kicking Tavares in the face as he knelt on the ground.

Boffy said on that day he was operating an unmarked vehicle, when he heard radio chatter that an individual was shooting a shotgun at an employment address on KLO Road. He immediately headed out to the nearest artery to the road and indicated he was responding, he said.

When he asked about the name  of the business, he learned it was the Harvest Golf Club. As he received more updates, two other police cars came in behind him, with lights and sirens activated.

He also knew at the time his wife, Cst. Robyn Boffy, was responding. As he got closer, he learned that Mantler had located the suspect's vehicle near KLO Road and Pandosy Street.

He sped up,  turned right on Pandosy. He parked his vehicle behind a pick up truck on the scene and recalled seeing the suspect was on the ground at this point.

He next remembered running up and securing a shotgun from the vehicle. It was not loaded and he locked the weapon in the trunk of his car.

As he went to the passenger side, his wife, Cst. Robyn Boffy, was either handcuffing or getting the suspect up, with  Mantler nearly. The suspect was where the cab meets the box of the truck, on the ground, he said.

One of his biggest concerns as he dealt with the situation was how close bystanders were to the truck, he testified.

At the time, he recalled, a middle aged female yelling something about police brutality. He did not discuss any of this with Mantler he said.

He did see Hayes a little later, filming on his iPhone.

Crown prosecutor Will Burrows further questioned the witness about his training in dealing with such situations and the different levels of cooperation.

From cooperation, the next level is non-cooperation, for example a protester sitting in the middle of the street, then resistance, which is actually running away from an officer, where a level of force could be strikes, the witness explained..

Burrows asked the witness about RCMP footwear, and if he noticed Mantler's footwear. Boffy described it as like a patrol boot, a very thin leather boot with a more athletic sole.

In cross-examination, defence lawyer Neville McDougall asked Boffy if he was familiar with the wheel which describes different situations and the appropriate use of force, about his level of training and if he had prior experience in Code 5 arrests.

The witness described seeing a video during his training in which a state trooper was shot. The video left an impression on him.

He described a situation in Rutland, where he ordered two individuals out of a car into a snowbank.

When he was questioned about what was happening at the scene on KLO, the witness said he heard Mantler say he had the suspect's vehicle and that everything was under control and to slow down. He didn't make a mental note of anything being out of order at the time, he said.

His most distinct memory was being at the passenger side of the vehicle and leaning the passenger seat forward to get the gun.

McDougall also asked if Boffy took note of some bystanders standing near the truck, to which he responded yes.

When asked if Mantler appeared excited, the witness said he appeared somewhat elevated, but it was consistent with the situation.

In further questioning, the defence lawyer asked about his answers regarding the incident given in an earlier police statement.

The witness said during initial response he thought he was going to a workplace shooting. It sounded to me like a horror story about an employee  coming in and going to town, he said. I thought it was an active shooter, to be honest when the call first came in.

McDougall asked when the officer actually stopped thinking he was going to a gunfight. The witness said when he got to the scene and saw the individual on the ground with Cst. Robyn Boffy handcuffing him.

Both defence and crown counsel showed the witness still frames from the video and asked him to identify when Tavares' hands appear to be going up and then down, as he knelt on the ground by the truck.

Boffy was also asked to describe movement in Mantler's legs leading up to the kick.

His legs appear to be stationary, the witness said, then it looks like his body is going into a forward motion with his left knee bent.

When the defence asked what the witness would have done if he was Mantler at the scene, Boffy said he did not know what he would have done, it was difficult to say.

His response to being asked if kicking the man would have been an alternative to shooting him, was yes that a strike would be preferable to using a firearm.

In earlier testimony, Cst. Robyn Boffy, Mantler's backup, described calling ambulance services because Tavares' face was bleeding, starting from his nose, she said.

She was also questioned by the defence, about her level of training in high risk vehicle stops, to which she responded she had received training.

The crown is expected to call civilian witnesses to testify in the trial on Thursday.

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