Man kicked by police says he thought officers were coming to help him
A man who was kicked by Victoria police during an arrest told a public hearing Wednesday he thought officers were coming to help him, not handcuff him.
Tyler Archer, 20, denied he was resisting arrest in the early hours of March 21, 2010, by failing to lie flat on his face or immediately put his hands behind his back. He said he was obeying an officer’s commands before he was “roughed up.”
A 56-second video of Archer’s arrest, posted to YouTube, is the key piece of evidence in the public hearing, which is examining the force used by constables Chris Bowser and Brendan Robinson. The hearing was ordered in February by the Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner despite three external investigations clearing the officers of wrongdoing.
Police arrived outside the Social Club on Store Street after receiving a call about a melee about 12:30 a.m.
Archer and his lacrosse teammates had been in a fight with a group of men on a pub crawl after the groups exchanged insults. Archer was left with a broken nose and another man, Ryan Friesen, was lying unconscious on the sidewalk.
In the video, taken after the fight had ended, a man in a plaid shirt directs Bowser’s attention to Archer, who is on a grassy median.
Archer said when Bowser told him to get on the ground, he sat down as quickly as possible. He can be heard on the video saying: “I’m fine, I got punched in the face.”
Robinson’s lawyer, David Butcher, suggested Archer should have known that Bowser’s commands to “get down on the ground” meant for him to lie flat on his stomach so he could be handcuffed.
“You know when police tell someone to get down on the ground, you’re supposed to lie on your stomach?” Butcher asked.
“No, I didn’t think I was getting arrested — I was injured,” Archer said.
After Robinson pushed Archer to his hands and knees, Archer gave his right hand to Robinson but said he couldn’t give his left hand for cuffing without falling forward on his face.
“I tried to the best of my ability — I had one hand in front of me and I didn’t want to fall on my face, which was pretty mangled,” he said.
In the video, Bowser tells Archer to put his hands behind his back. Two seconds later, Bowser kicks him hard in the side and then knees him twice in the back. Archer is then handcuffed while on his side.
During his testimony, after watching the video, Archer cringed, began to tear up and had to take a break.
“You weren’t using any force, any of your force to prevent getting your hands behind your back?” asked David Butcher, Robinson’s lawyer.
“You weren’t crawling away?”
“Never — I was trying to keep my balance,” Archer said.
He later said: “At first I thought they were coming to help me, then I kind of understood pretty quick they wanted me to be handcuffed.”
Butcher suggested that Archer assaulted Friesen and that one of Archer’s friends stomped on Friesen’s head, leaving him unconscious.
Archer said he didn’t know how Friesen was knocked to the ground or who was stomping on him, and insisted he was being punched in the head and ribs at the time.
Archer said his memory of the night is poor because he had about seven drinks and had been punched in the head.
Richard Neary, Archer’s lawyer, objected to the questioning, saying the Victoria police officers had no knowledge of Archer’s involvement in the brawl when they arrived at the scene.
The commissioner’s office is trying to issue a summons to compel Friesen — who is believed to be living in Burnaby — to testify.