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Buddy Tavares Sues Over Kick To The Head From RCMP Officer Geoff Mantler

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BUDDY TAVARES
Buddy Tavares shows his bruises as he speaks to the media during an anti-police rally in Kelowna, B.C., Sunday, Jan. 16, 2011. About 200 people gathered to protest an incident where an RCMP officer was videotaped kicking a co-operative suspect in the face. The rally was in support of Tavares, the man arrested in the incident Jan. 7. | CP

THE CANADIAN PRESS -- KELOWNA, B.C. - A British Columbia man who was kicked in the head by an RCMP officer while being arrested at gunpoint has launched a civil lawsuit over his injuries.

The arrest caught on video shows Const. Geoff Mantler ordering Buddy Tavares to the ground and seconds later kicking the man in the face.

The 28-year-old constable has been charged with assault stemming from the incident in Kelowna, B.C., last January. His lawyer entered a not guilty plea to the charge during a brief hearing Tuesday.

Tavares' lawsuit accuses Mantler, the B.C. government, the City of Kelowna and another unnamed female officer of negligence and malicious misconduct.

The lawsuit, filed with the court late last month, said the officers pulled Tavares over at a Kelowna city intersection, ordered him from his vehicle at gunpoint and told him to lie on the ground.

"The plaintiff was in the process of complying with the defendants ... at which time the defendant Mantler, wrongfully and without provocation from the plaintiff, delivered a kick to the head of the plaintiff," the lawsuit states.

His lawsuit claims Tavares, 51, suffered a broken nose and injuries to his mouth, teeth and brain, as well as shock and trauma.

Accusations of negligence in the civil claim include excessive and unnecessary force and failing to observe provisions of the Criminal Code for proper police behaviour and procedure.

RCMP have said the officers were responding to reports of shots fired at a golf course when they stopped Tavares' vehicle.
Tavares has said was on leave from a job at the golf course while recovering from a brain injury suffered in a previous motorcycle crash.

The man was handcuffed and spent the weekend in an RCMP holding cell after the Jan. 7 arrest.

He was originally charged with careless use of a firearm, but the charge was later dropped. Tavares agreed to an 18-month ban on possessing firearms.

Release of the video set off public protests and RCMP Assistant Commissioner Peter Hourihan visited Tavares six weeks after the arrest and apologized for what happened.

Tavares' lawsuit claims punitive and exemplary damages for "high-handed, reprehensible and, or oppressive actions in the assault and battery or negligence."

It doesn't state a dollar figure for compensation.

RCMP and the B.C. solicitor general declined to comment with the matter before the court.

None of the claims in the lawsuit have been proven in court.

Mantler was placed on paid suspension a few days after the alleged assault. In May, Mounties announced his pay was being revoked while he remained on suspension.

Last month, Mantler's lawyer entered a not-guilty plea on his behalf in a separate assault charge stemming from the arrest of another man last August.

Mantler was not in court Tuesday when his lawyer, Neville McDougall, entered the plea on his behalf in the Tavares case and reiterated the not guilty plea in the other case.

McDougall said Mantler is frustrated by the way he has been treated by the national police force. He said his client has been a scapegoat.

"Geoff Mantler was thrown under the bus based on public perception and to try to maintain the integrity of the RCMP as a unit, as opposed to what he was acting on that day," McDougall told reporters outside the court.

A date for his assault trial will be set later this month.