A 52-year-old Vernon man now faces assault and uttering threat charges after a potentially dangerous confrontation with a senior RCMP member in Vernon on Monday.
After the incident, the unidentified officer told RCMP spokesman Gord Molendyk: "Gord, I was terrified."
Just after 9 a.m. on Monday, two members from the Vernon detachment responded to a report of a domestic assault in the 6900 block of Tronson Road, said Molendyk.
"When the first officer arrived on the scene, he noticed a man smashing the window of a car with a hammer. When the officer spoke to the suspect and told him to drop the hammer, the 52-year-old suspect turned and approached our officer in a threatening manner," Molendyk said.
"Our officer feared for his safety and drew his sidearm. The suspect continued to approach while our officer shouted at him to drop the hammer before he turned and walked away. Our officer was able to approach the suspect a second time a few minutes later and deployed pepper spray that eventually had the desired effect and the suspect gave up."
Gregory Monty appeared in Vernon provincial court on Wednesday. A 34-year-old woman, Monty's "significant other," was examined by paramedics, but Molendyk doesn't believe she was taken to Vernon Jubilee Hospital for treatment. There were no children involved.
"More and more, at least once a month, our officers are experiencing this type of behaviour from suspects they deal with within our communities," said Molendyk. "It is a credit to the clear thinking of this senior officer that this case ended, thankfully, relatively peacefully. It could have had a much more tragic ending," he said.
"We are stepping up our training and have for a number of years in regard to dealing with individuals who are both addicted and mentally challenged or have mental disabilities. A number of changes happened as a direct result of Robert Dziekanski," said Molendyk.
Police forces changed their training as well as escalation practices, after Dziekanski, 39, died on Oct. 14, 2007. The Polish immigrant who didn't speak English was tasered five times by RCMP members at Vancouver International Airport.
"It's a life-and-death situation. It's not a stretch of the imagination that a hammer could inflict grievous bodily harm and-or death. There's a case in Kelowna where a hammer was used and resulted in death a number of months ago," noted Molendyk.
"When officers are confronted, it is preservation of life and people around. There were also people around that this individual could have turned on quickly. "The senior officer kept his attention focused on him. He realized that he was in close proximity of decision time. His training obviously did contribute to bringing this to a successful conclusion."
Such real-life situations are not like TV, emphasized Molendyk.
"In television shows, police officers pull their sidearms and use them regularly. Our officers are trained to serve and protect. The last thing that any of them want to do is physically harm another individual. When confronted in that type of situation, it can be very, very traumatic for the officer that is dealing with it."