RCMP officer charged with assault after pinning man’s neck during arrest at Winnipeg airport

WARNING: This story contains video and details that readers may find disturbing.

A Manitoba RCMP officer has been charged following a 2019 arrest in which a constable pressed his knee on a man’s neck at the Winnipeg airport as the man shouted at repeatedly « I can’t breathe ».

Manitoba’s police watchdog said in a news release Monday that there are reasonable grounds to believe a criminal offense has been committed.

const. Eric Gerein is charged with assault and ordered to appear in provincial court on September 26.

The arrest outside James Richardson International Airport was filmed by the father of grounded man Nathan Lasuik.

The footage shows an RCMP officer kneeling on Lasuik’s neck and placing the man’s face to the ground. The officer doesn’t seem to adjust his knee, nor the pressure, despite the man’s repeated pleas.

This still from video taken by Nathan Lasuik’s father shows an RCMP officer placing his knee on Lasuik’s neck during his arrest outside Winnipeg’s James Richardson International Airport on August 1, 2019. (Submitted by Nathan Lasuik)

Although the arrest took place on August 1, 2019, the RCMP did not notify the Manitoba Independent Investigative Unit until more than two years later, on August 11, 2021, after the video was filed as evidence at the trial of the arrested man. .

Jane MacLatchy, then-commander of the Manitoba RCMP, said the force learned of the events through a Winnipeg Free Press report on the trial, after which the RCMP reported the allegations to the IIU, which is investigating serious incidents involving the police.

‘Let me breathe’

At one point in the video recorded by Lasuik’s father, the officer rejects Lasuik’s pleas because he could still speak.

“Let me breathe,” Lasuik is heard saying at the start of the video.

« You breathe. When you talk, you breathe, » someone shouts back. It is not clear from the video which policeman is speaking.

A policeman can be heard telling a passer-by to move away, but she holds on.

« I’m just making sure that person can breathe, » the passerby says.

At the end of the video, a policeman approaches Lasuik’s father to ask if he was recording.

« I have to grab the phone, » the officer says, before the video ends.

RCMP were at the airport after receiving a report of an intoxicated man assaulting a person and then punching an officer in the face without provocation, the force said in a news release last year .

When officers arrived at the airport, they attempted to defuse the situation, but Lasuik became combative and punched an officer, according to the news release.

Lasuik was handcuffed but kicked an officer in the groin before officers pinned him to the ground, that is when the officer put his knee on the back of Lasiuk’s neck, a said the police.

Lasuik was charged with several counts of assault and his case went to trial.

Lasuik later pleaded guilty to two assault charges and was found guilty of the third and received a conditional discharge. He was placed on supervised probation for a year.

The IIU is not providing further details on the case against Gerein as the case is now before the courts, the press release said on Monday.


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