Mantler acquitted on assault charge

Cst. Geoff Mantler has been acquitted on the first of two assault charges the suspended Kelowna RCMP officer is facing.

Mantler was charged with assault causing bodily harm stemming from the August 30, 2010 arrest of Manjit Singh Bhatti.

In reaching his decision, Provincial Court Judge Mark Takahashi cited both the credibility of Bhatti, and the inconsistencies in his testimony.

During a two day trial held in early July, Bhatti testified that he had smoked crack cocaine prior to his arrest and was seeking to purchase more.

While trying to make the purchase, he felt threatened and ran from the people he was with.

His escape took him in the direction of Mantler and his partner, Cst. Rick Goodwin who were parked in the area and ordered him to stop.

Bhatti says he heard someone yell stop, but assumed it was his pursuers and continued on.

Judge Takahashi wondered why someone fleeing from danger would not seek police help.

While not disputing the fact that Bhatti was injured during his subsequent arrest, Takahashi also noted that he first accused Cst. Goodwin then accused Mantler of causing the injuries.

Bhatti also stated that he bled profusely, however evidence presented during the trial showed there was no blood visible on his face or on the white shirt he was wearing.

Takahashi also chastised Cst. Goodwin for being unable to provide a better account of the incident, leaving doubt as to whether he caused the injuries when he handcuffed Bhatti or Mantler  caused them when Goodwin's view was obstructed as he was placing Bhatti's bike into the trunk of the police cruiser.

Takahashi said the evidence shows Bhatti was injured during the arrest, and that he has concerns over Mantler's actions, saying he believes those actions likely caused Bhatti's injuries.

However, the judge admitted that his concerns do not amount to proof and therefore was acquitting Mantler on the charge.

The officer is not out of the woods yet however. He's facing another charge of assault causing bodily harm after being caught on tape kicking Buddy Tavares in the face during an arrest in January 2011.

That trial will begin on November 26.

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