A Vernon man who was left bloodied and bruised following an altercation with a "vaccine protester" last year at Polson Park says he was nearly knocked unconscious when his head hit the pavement.
Kelsey Moffatt is representing himself in a trial that got underway Tuesday in Vernon provincial court. The 53-year-old is facing one count of assault causing bodily harm stemming from an Oct. 1, 2022, incident near "protest corner" at Polson Park.
Korry Zepik, 66, said he spent about six months worth of Saturdays among the "vaccine protesters," holding his own signage, though he did not hold their same views.
“They were pretty much against 100 per cent of the restrictions," he said. "You did not attend the rally if you were not against something.”
Zepik described weeks of conversations with protesters who would share links to websites to support their beliefs. He would then look up the sites but told the judge he found “little substance” in the information.
The court heard how week after week Zepik returned and used a long pole to hoist his messages above the crowd, he hung signs that read “Covid is not a Plot," "Masks Work" and "Care Workers - Covid Heroes.”
Crown prosecutor James Bagan asked Zepik why he attended the rallies.
“Somebody needed to make a statement that this is not logical," Zepik replied. "Somebody needed to question the validity of the rally.”
Zepik said the conversations on the corner morphed from anit-mandates to climate change, and his relationship with the protesters soon "soured."
“I started to tell these people they were wrong … and this riled them,” he said.
On the day of the incident, Zepik said he was using an air horn to accentuate positive feedback he received from passersby.
“Every time someone would wave or smile at me, I would reach down with my thumb and give a little toot so that I could show those people I’m getting about five times more smiles a day than they are getting," he said.
Along with the air horn, Zepik crossed at the lights to rally for support on both sides of the highway.
Zepik said he eventually started getting “jostled” and he began thinking the scene was "too hostile."
According to Zepik, protesters took his signs and he believed Moffatt was going to spray paint one of them. He said he grabbed Moffatt's arm to stop that and a scuffle ensued.
Zepik said he ended up on his knees, holding on to Moffatt's ankles and hoping someone would come break up the melee, but no one did.
Zepik said his next thought was that his head had hit the pavement.
“I was severely, severely stunned — I was almost asleep," he said.
"I was almost out, but something inside me said 'If you go to sleep now, you will never wake up.' ... I didn’t want to die, and I felt the hits coming on even after the slam and all I could think of was stay awake, stay awake.”
Along with cuts and bruises, Zepik said he also suffered a dislocated knee.
During cross-examination, Moffatt asked Zepik to clarify the order of events.
Zepik acknowledged grabbing Moffatt from behind in an effort to pull him backward.
"So you physically intervened to protect your personal property?" Moffatt asked.
"Yes," Zepik replied.
As the two recounted the incident in front of Judge George Leven, Moffatt questioned the logistics of Zepik’s claim.
Moffatt suggested that Zepik slipped and Moffatt fell with him. Zepik said that sounded "roughly" accurate.
The trial will resume Thursday and additional testimony is expected to be heard from several eyewitnesses and police who were called to the scene.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Moffatt was found not guilty in provincial court on Oct. 6.