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Criminal probe ordered after Mountie taped kicking a suspect in head

A Kelowna Mountie will find out Monday whether he will be suspended pending both a criminal investigation and an internal police probe after he was shown in a video kicking a suspect in the head during an arrest.

The suspect, whom police have identified as Buddy Tavares, was on leave from work with a brain injury from a recent motorcycle accident.

Police responded to a call that an employee of the Harvest Golf Club in Kelowna was on the grounds firing a shotgun on Friday. Officers scoured the area and the suspect was soon pulled over in his grey pickup truck about five kilometres away from the club.

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In an iPhone video shot by a local reporter and posted on the Internet, a man can be seen getting out of the truck at gunpoint. He has just gotten onto his hands and knees when a plainclothes officer kicks him in the head, causing the man to fall forward.

When he is later led away in handcuffs, his face is bloodied while a bloodstain is visible on the pavement.

Kelowna RCMP Superintendent Bill McKinnon received an unedited copy of the video Friday afternoon.

"After reviewing it, I ordered a criminal investigation," he said in an interview. He said he also placed the officer on administrative duties.

The investigation will be carried out by the Abbotsford police force. The officer, whom police have not named, is also facing an internal code of conduct investigation and RCMP deputy commissioner Peter Hourihan is expected to decide Monday whether to suspend the officer during the investigation.

Mr. Tavares has a permit to shoot blanks at the club to scare away geese, but police said he did not have permission to do so Friday.

An empty 12-gauge shotgun was seized from Mr. Tavares's truck, along with both spent and live ammunition, police said. No blanks were found.

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After his arrest, Mr. Tavares was taken to the hospital and then to jail. Police took him back to the hospital Saturday morning for another checkup.

"We just wanted to make sure there was no broken bones or anything else after the swelling went down," said Supt. McKinnon.

After his checkup, Mr. Tavares was returned to jail. He has been charged with careless use of a firearm and is due in court Monday.

The man who shot the video, Castanet Media's Kelly Hayes, said Mr. Tavares appeared to be doing as he was told, though perhaps not as quickly as the officer wanted.

Mr. Hayes said the kick "looked like a full swing" and that Mr. Tavares was bleeding severely from his face.

"My reaction was I immediately felt sorry for the alleged suspect because I knew of the pain he was going through," Mr. Hayes said.

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However, he pointed out that police were responding to reports of a man firing a gun. "There was reason to suspect that something menacing was going on," he said.

Mr. Tavares's friends however, feel differently.

At the Bunkhouse Bar and Grill next door to the golf club where Mr. Tavares is a regular, Al Body described him as a "very hard-working man" with a talent for refurbishing pianos.

When he first saw the video, Mr. Body said he was "quite taken aback by it."

"Buddy was doing what the police were asking him to do and the next thing you see is an officer kick him in the face."

Ken Albert, who described himself as Mr. Tavares's best friend, called the kick "a cheap shot."

"That could have actually killed him or put him in a coma. It was unbelievable," he said. "It was just sickening for that cop to do it and I can't see why Buddy's in jail and the cop is still behind a desk getting paid. It bugs me to no end."

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