Geoff Mantler is expected to argue he had good reason to punt Buddy Tavares in the face when he takes the witness stand today.
The disgraced constable has sat silently, dressed in a suit for seven days listening to witnesses describe the January 2011 arrest. Lawyers expect him to start testifying in his own defence this afternoon. It will mark the first time he has spoken publicly about the kick, viewed nearly 200,000 times online.
Judge Greg Koturbash has yet to hear what prompted the Mountie to use the force he did to control a middle-aged man who appeared to be obeying his commands. Mantler, who worked less than four years with the RCMP, will likely say Tavares was exhibiting "threat cues" that made him believe he was at risk.
Officers who helped with the arrest have said Tavares, then 51, was moving too slowly and appeared to raise his hands momentarily as he knelt down on all fours on KLO Road. A policing expert criticized Mantler for disregarding basic safety principles and said the kick was over-aggressive.
The Mounties were looking for a man who had fired a gun at least twice at a Kelowna golf course. The judge will have to weigh Mantler's perception of the threat Tavares posed before he decides whether to convict him of assault causing bodily harm.
Two more bystanders recounted Tuesday what they saw as Mantler approached Tavares in his truck that grey morning. Jennifer Humphries was working at Interior Savings Credit Union when she saw the commotion from a second-floor balcony.
She said Tavares appeared to be kneeling when Mantler booted him in the head. It was a "pretty hard" kick, Humphries said.
"His head flipped back. I could hear the kick. It was loud . . . like a foot hitting a soccer ball."
She said Tavares collapsed on his chest and face.
Ted Berg, a contractor working on Dyck's Pharmacy, watched the arrest from the passenger side of the Dodge pickup. He heard Mantler order the driver to "get down" three times, he said.
Looking under the truck, he could see Tavares on his hands and knees. Moments later, he saw officers escorting him away from the vehicle.
Crown counsel Will Burrows will call his last witnesses this morning. Kynan O'Rourke was also renovating the pharmacy. Kerry Solinsky, a former staff sergeant with Kelowna RCMP, helped train Mantler in high-risk take-downs.
The trial will be adjourned Thursday to early next year. Defence lawyer Neville McDougall plans to call a use-of-force expert to testify.