|Kelowna RCMP officers lead a handcuffed man to a waiting ambulance because he complained of breathing problems after a rough arrest on Ellis Street. One witness said it looked like the Penticton man was having a seizure.|
The man had an apparent seizure after officers tackled him and pressed a knee on his neck on Ellis Street near Leon Avenue just after 10 a.m. Six Mounties surrounded him as he struggled to breathe on the cold, wet pavement.
"They were all over him," said Nicolas Critchley, who saw the man walking fast along Ellis and looking anxiously behind him. "He was convulsing on the ground. It looked like a seizure. He made a high-pitched noise, like he was gasping."
RCMP called for an ambulance so paramedics could treat his breathing problems. Officers had him handcuffed as he breathed from an oxygen mask. They helped him to his feet and he stepped into the ambulance himself.
Officers refused to speak with reporters after the 15-minute arrest and drove away. Staff Sgt. John Jordan said later in a news release the 30-year-old Penticton man took off on foot after a window of the front door at the RCMP's Kelowna detachment was smashed.
The suspect refused to stop when police confronted him on Ellis south of Queensway, Jordan said.
"(He) was taken to the ground by attending officers after he wrapped a studded belt around his fist and refused to comply with directions. Once under control, the male complained of breathing difficulties."
Medical staff checked him at Kelowna General Hospital and released him back to the RCMP. Police later let him go on a pending charge of mischief.
A man who watched the arrest had met the suspect downtown Saturday night. Stanley Prokopetz said the suspect asked if he knew where he could buy drugs. RCMP arrested the suspect some time later, and Prokopetz bumped into him again Sunday near Kasugai Garden as he walked away from the police detachment.
"I heard glass breaking," Prokopetz said. "He told me he booted the window . . . He was angry."
The suspect told him he had $4,000 with him when police arrested him Saturday night. They returned only $1,800 when they released him from the lockup Sunday morning, said Prokopetz, 20.
"He got his money stolen from him. He got angry . . . He freaked out."
Two Mounties followed Prokopetz and the suspect on foot as they approached Queensway. When Prokopetz pointed them out to him, the suspect ran "full tilt," he said. A minute or two later, Prokopetz saw several patrol cars converge at Ellis and Leon, blocking traffic in both directions. The suspect was lying on his side, convulsing in the slush as officers held him down, he said.
"It was intense . . . The cops treated him so
Critchley recorded part of the arrest on his smart phone. The suspect was lying in deep slush on the street as he struggled to breathe but nothing obstructed his mouth.
"I've had seizures before. That wasn't fake. It was a bad seizure," Critchley said. "It's possibly from . . . being over-excited, being tackled by a bunch of police officers."