Mountie punched suspect in face
A Richmond Mountie punched a suspect in the face, then face-washed him on the asphalt, during an arrest he made in January of 2012 following a string of cell phone robberies.
Details about the assault that landed Const. Inderpal Singh Bal in hot water, are included in a decision by Richmond provincial court Judge Ron Fratkin.
Bal pled guilty to common assault, and was sentenced in January.
According to the court ruling—Bal received a suspended sentence, six months probation, and was ordered to work 25 hours of community service—Bal was part of quick response RCMP team on the night of the incident on Jan. 26, 2012.
The team was conducting undercover surveillance in regard to a series of cell phone robberies and thefts that occurred in downtown Richmond between Dec. 31, 2011 and Jan. 26, 2012.
Two men were believed to have been strong-arming cell phones from victims, and in some report, weapons were involved.
While surveilling Matthew Navas-Rivas and Peter Grieve, the team lost visual contact with them for a short time, and during that window, the team received a police broadcast of a just-completed robbery involving a cell phone and a wallet.
The two suspects were reported fleeing in a car at high speed.
The surveillance team initiated a Code Five (high risk) arrest, and the team pulled over a car driven by Navas-Rivas.
Although the men in the car were ordered to stay inside, they both disobeyed and exited the vehicle with their arms raised.
But both complied when told to lie down on the ground, where Navas-Rivas remained motionless for about 14 seconds.
That’s when video footage, taken from an RCMP cruiser equipped with a dashboard camera, shows Bal with his service gun drawn but pointed downward, approach the suspect, move rather quickly and land a “quite aggressive” knee to the victim’s lower back.
Bal then placed his weapon on the ground near Navas-Rivas, and “looks up and to his right for a brief moment and then with his right hand strikes Navas-Rivas in the head/face.”
According to the court ruling, Navas-Rivas “had not struggled or shown any resistance throughout the arrest.”
But the video shows Bal lean over close to Navas-Rivas’s ear “and appeared to be saying something to him.”
A female police officer also observed Bal grab Navas-Rivas’s hair and “pushed his head into the asphalt.”
According to the court ruling, the video shows Bal “applying pressure to the prone Navas-Rivas while pushing down on his head. Cst. Bal appears to be moving the head of Navas-Rivas against the pavement in a side-to-side motion.”
The Crown asked for a suspended sentence, while Bal’s lawyer argued for an absolute or conditional discharge.
Bal, 35, is an only child who immigrated to Canada with his parents in 1980. He was a six-year veteran of the force at the time of the incident.
Married to another RCMP officer, he is the sole caregiver of his elderly mother, and is involved in charity work, running the Richmond RCMP’s canteen charity, which has helped raise more than $10,000 for various charities.
In reaching his decision, Judge Fratkin took into account the fact Bal was in a role of authority over the complainant, who was in a vulnerable position, and who did not provoke the incident. As well, Bal had no criminal record, entered an early guilty plea, and “seems to be (at) very little risk of re-offending.”
Fratkin wrote: “While I am satisfied that Cst. Bal’s actions were out of character and aberrant, nonetheless, his acts were sufficiently egregious to conclude that registering a discharge would be contrary to the public interest,” Fratkin wrote in his ruling.