A Kelowna resident is claiming he contacted the Mounties and the Civil Review and Complaints Commission (CRCC) for the RCMP two years ago, over concerns about the behaviour of the same officer who is now on administrative duty following an investigation into an arrest that has led to a civil suit filed against the constable.
Nathan Stroeder decided to speak out about his 2018 encounter with Const. Siggy Pietrzak, after seeing a viral video of the officer punching Tyler Russel several times during an arrest in Kelowna in May.
According to a civil suit filed by Russell, he was sitting in the passenger seat of his work vehicle in downtown Kelowna when he was approached by two RCMP officers. They requested that he get out of the vehicle; however, he did not. According to court documents, Russell was asked to provide a breath sample. He refused, as he was not driving. The civil suit outlines the event partially caught on video, showing Russell struggling with two officers when a third officer, allegedly Const. Pietrzak, runs to the scene and punches him repeatedly.
Stroeder believes this situation could have been avoided had the Kelowna detachment followed up differently with his account of a situation involving Const. Pietrzak on the night of Feb. 5, 2018.
The incident led to Stroeder filing a complaint with the CRCC. A Sgt. Collins conducted an investigation into Stroeder’s allegations against Pietrzak, and copy of the investigation report was given to Stroeder in August of 2019.
That internal RCMP report outlines the details of Stroeder’s complaint.
Stroeder claims Const. Pietrzak arrived at his home to speak with Justin Trudel, a visiting friend, who some months earlier had been in a verbal altercation with his girlfriend at a home near Nakusp. Kelowna RCMP were aware he was in town, and sent an officer to Stroeder’s home.
The door was answered by Trudel., but Stroeder alleged Pietrzak walked into the home, did not identify himself, his rank or badge number or the reason he was at the home.
According to the sergeant’s report, Stroeder asked Pietrzak to go outside with his friend. Stroeder alleged Pietrzak was verbally abusive to him when he asked why the officer was on his property. The report states Stroeder claimed he was told he was going to be arrested for mischief, and Pietrzak moved towards him. Stroeder closed the door and called 911.
In his internal report, Sgt. Collins wrote that he found that Pietrzak did identify himself and explained he was at Stroeder’s home to conduct police business. Pietrzak did go outside with Justin Trudel as requested by Stroeder.
Sgt. Collins stated that Pietrzak found Stroeder to be agitated and loud, and swore at Pietrzak. His behaviour suggested he might physically confront the officer, wrote Sgt. Collins. He indicated that Pietrzak believed Stroeder to be intruding on his investigation and told him that if he continued he would be arrested for mischief.
The report stated that Stroeder’s friend was cooperative and compliant. Sgt. Collins did not find Const. Pietrzak to be verbally abusive to Stroeder. In regard to Pietrzak not providing Stroeder more information on why he was at the home, Sgt. Collins stated that under the Privacy Act police officers did not have to disclose information.
The report concluded that Const. Pietrzak was acting in the scope of his responsibilities and executed his duties lawfully.
Stroeder told the News that despite the findings of the report, he believed Pietrzak to be combative that night and there needed to be further investigation into his behaviour.
After watching the video of Russell’s arrest last month, Stroeder took to social media and tracked down Const. Pietrzak’s sister, Kym. She had identified the officer as her brother to media and spoke out condemning his actions.
“It didn’t surprise me, but I was disgusted,” Kym said at the time. “I can’t believe he’s a cop. How is this justifiable?”
She encouraged Stroeder to also come forward with what had happened to him when he encountered Const. Pietrzak, hoping that there might be more people with similar stories to share.
When asked to confirm the authenticity of the report, the RCMP declined to comment on a specific case citing privacy legislation. They did say:
“ In general with respect to the RCMP’s Public Complaints Process, if a complainant is not satisfied with the manner in which a complaint has been disposed by the RCMP, the complainant may request a review by the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the RCMP.”
Notably, the RCMP did not say, on or off the record, that there is anything wrong with release of the report.