Man ac­cuses RCMP of­fi­cer of punch­ing him

In­ves­ti­ga­tion par­tially ab­solves cop, fault­ing him for ‘im­proper at­ti­tude’

The Compass - - FRONT PAGE - BY AN­DREW ROBIN­SON

A Til­ton res­i­dent is dis­ap­pointed with the out­come of an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into his com­plaint con­cern­ing an RCMP of­fi­cer that he claims punched him dur­ing a traf­fic stop.

Gary Dixon Jr. was driv­ing on Vet­er­ans Me­mo­rial High­way on April 21 in the early af­ter­noon when he passed an un­marked po­lice ve­hi­cle on a stretch of the high­way where that’s illegal.

There are con­flict­ing ac­counts of what hap­pened next. Dixon al­leges the of­fi­cer who came to his driver-side win­dow dressed in plain clothes punched him twice in the face and screamed pro­fan­ity at him. Dixon told The Com­pass he was reach­ing over to get his li­cense, reg­is­tra­tion and ve­hi­cle in­sur­ance in­for­ma­tion when it hap­pened.

“It all hap­pened so quick. I pulled over, parked, hit the win­dow, and just as I reach (down), I felt a hand come in, wrap up my hood and go bang, bang, bang,” Dixon said. “There was a bunch of cuss words.”

The pre­vi­ous month, Dixon had teeth re­moved at the hos­pi­tal. He claims the of­fi­cer hit him in the lower-left jaw.

“A cou­ple of days prior (to the in­ci­dent) ev­ery­thing was start­ing to heal up. Now he got me split right up.”

An RCMP of­fi­cer from the Whit­bourne de­tach­ment was tasked to in­ves­ti­gate Dixon’s com­plaint — he con­tacted po­lice later that same day. Dixon re­ceived a six-page let­ter last month from the RCMP de­tail­ing the in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

Ac­cord­ing to a pre­pared state­ment from the of­fi­cer, he claimed he grabbed Dixon’s shoul­der at one point be­cause Dixon was smok­ing at the time and wav­ing his hand around while also yelling and scream­ing. He said Dixon nearly hit him with the cig­a­rette at one point, which com­pelled him to grab Dixon’s shoul­der to keep it away from him.

Dixon con­sid­ers that an un­rea­son­able ex­cuse.

“Why do he have the right, if I was smok­ing, to reach in my car and take that smoke? Shouldn’t he say, ‘Mr. Dixon, can you please put the smoke out, or throw it out the win­dow or put in the ash tray?’ He got no right to touch me, re­ally. It’s lies.”

Sec­ond of­fi­cer’s ac­count

A sec­ond of­fi­cer was in the un­marked ve­hi­cle when the traf­fic stop oc­curred. He told the in­ves­ti­ga­tor he did not see his col­league hit Dixon, though he did hear Dixon ac­cuse the of­fi­cer of do­ing so. When they were ini­tially get­ting out of the ve­hi­cle, he no­ticed the emer­gency lights had been turned off, so he got back in to turn them on again.

He also heard his co-worker swear and yell at Dixon. He did not no­tice any marks, red­ness, blood or bruis­ing on Dixon. The of­fi­cers did not is­sue a ticket for the driv­ing in­frac­tion.

The in­ves­ti­ga­tor also spoke with Dixon’s fa­ther, who told po­lice he saw a trickle of blood on the cor­ner of his son’s mouth, fail­ing to re­call what side of the face it was on. He did not see any other marks on his face. Dixon did not seek med­i­cal treat­ment af­ter the in­ci­dent.

In the let­ter to Dixon, Supt. Jamie Zettler, eastern dis­trict di­rec­tor for the RCMP’s B di­vi­sion in New­found­land and Labrador, of­fers an apol­ogy for the of­fi­cer’s “im­proper at­ti­tude” through the use of foul lan­guage. He said the of­fi­cer “will be pro­vided op­er­a­tional di­rec­tion in this mat­ter.”

As for the al­le­ga­tion the of­fi­cer punched Dixon, Zettler does not be­lieve the de­tails of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion sup­port that ac­cu­sa­tion.

“Given your be­hav­iour while driv­ing, then dur­ing and af­ter the traf­fic stop, I be­lieve that (the of­fi­cer) did not use in­ap­pro­pri­ate force and (man­aged) the in­ci­dent with­out ex­ces­sive use of force,” Zettler writes.

In a state­ment emailed to The Com­pass, Sgt. Greg Hicks from the Trin­ity Conception de­tach­ment said the force does not dis­cuss in­di­vid­ual com­plaints pub­licly.

“The RCMP thor­oughly in­ves­ti­gates all com­plaints from the public. Once com­pleted the com­plainant is given the re­sults of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion and ac­tion that re­sulted, if any. We do not dis­cuss in­di­vid­ual com­plaints or find­ings of these types of in­ves­ti­ga­tions as a mat­ter of pol­icy and for pri­vacy rea­sons.”

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