Kelowna COVID protest leader back in court for assault trial

David Lindsay back in court

Following a nearly 12 week hiatus, the assault trial of David Lindsay resumed in a Kelowna courtroom Tuesday morning.

Lindsay, the leader of a group which protested COVID-19 restrictions weekly in Stuart Park, is charged with assault stemming from an incident in front of the Interior Health building on Doyle Avenue on Aug. 19, 2021.

The trial was scheduled for three days, however an initial refusal by Lindsay to participate in his own trial in protest of bag searches carried out on his supporters, glitches with video feeds and technical issues slowed the case to a crawl.

The trial was paused after testimony March 3 before resuming Tuesday with former Paladin Security branch manager Jason Davis back on the stand.

Davis, who was assigned to work security the morning of Aug. 19, testified under direct examination by Crown prosecutor David Grabavac his instructions from Interior Health were that Lindsay and the protesters were not allowed inside the building.

During a video of the incident played before the court Davis is heard telling Lindsay he was an "agent of the property," and (Lindsay) was not welcome in the Interior Health building.

"Our first conversation we discussed that if Mr. Lindsay tried to enter he would be trespassing and, at that time he said 'I don't care I'm going in if I have to force my way in,' then I explained if he tried to push through that would be assault," Davis testified.

Court was also shown the alleged assault in which Lindsay, with his hands to his side, walks toward Davis and a second security guard, Taj Smith, and makes contact. Police officers at the scene then call Lindsay away from the building's entrance.

Prior to the incident, Lindsay told Davis he would be back the following Wednesday and hoped he and Smith were there as well.

"It was aggressive from a distance, it was agitated," said Davis of the comments.

"I interpreted it partially as grandstanding for an audience and potential to try and intimidate myself and Taj Smith."

During cross-examination Lindsay, who is representing himself, hammered on the fact Davis did not bring a body cam or audio recording device given the fact he was told there was the potential for physical violence.

"It's policy," he responded on numerous occasions before objections from Grabavac prompted Judge Cathaline Heinrichs to ask Lindsay to make his point or move on.

There were two occasions during cross-examination when Judge Heinrichs asked Davis to leave the courtroom while both sides discussed whether certain lines of questioning Lindsay was trying to pursue would be admissible.

The first centered on whether Davis had direct, personal knowledge as to why Lindsay was banned from the IH building.

"My concerns is was he just following orders...or did he have grounds to support what he was doing.

"Was it an arbitrary decision, was he just following orders. If a company that hires him says come down, we want to make sure John doesn't come on the property, does he come down knowing he may have to use force to prevent people from coming on the property."

Judge Heinrichs told Lindsay he must satisfy her the questions being asked are relevant to the charge of assault.

Grabavac argued it wasn't relevant who banned Lindsay from the building or why, saying it's private property and they can do what they want.

"There is no right of access," he said.

The judge ruled against Lindsay.

She also ruled against him when Lindsay tried to enter into evidence a Facebook post showing April, 2022 Castanet article after charges were laid stemming from two other COVID-related incidents.

"The issue goes to show credibility and the fact Mr. Davis was recommending charges be laid against me not because an assault really happened but because of a hatred toward me and a hatred toward what we stood for," stated Lindsay.

Lindsay contends the comments at the top of the Facebook post are from Davis claiming "he hates me, he hates our group and our anti-vaccination status."

Heinrichs ruled that Davis' complaint had already be made to the police well before the 2022 article and post.

Lindsay was expected to wrap up his cross-examination Tuesday afternoon.

The Crown still has more witnesses to call before Lindsay has a chance to put on his defence.

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