Teacher alleges he was clubbed, pepper sprayed
A city cop accused of using excessive force on a man who fled a routine traffic stop five years ago says he’s baffled over the entire incident.
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Const. Frank Metselaar testified yesterday during a provincial law enforcement review hearing that he was shocked when Richard Eichhorn drove away after only talking to his partner for 30 to 60 seconds during the first initial stop.
"It seemed really strange that he would do this, it seemed like there was more to this," said Metselaar.
"To this day, I have no idea why he drove away. This was one of the most unusual traffic stops that I have ever had."
Eichhorn claims he was needlessly pepper sprayed, clubbed and punched by the officer March 1, 2003, as he believed he was free to go after being pulled over for failing to stop at a red light.
According to the officer’s testimony, Eichhorn was apologetic for his actions once he was taken to police headquarters. He even shook hands with Eichhorn once he left the station, said Metselaar.
"He had no criminal record, he was remorseful, and he said had a lot of things going on in his life, so we decided, primarily, to give Eichhorn a break," said Metselaar. "He shook my hand when he was released and there seemed to be no ill will on my part or his part."
Earlier, when Eichhorn’s white Honda Civic was stopped for the second time on 109 Street and Jasper Avenue, Metselaar says the man was actively resisting when the officer told him that he was under arrest.
"When I told him that he was under arrest, he said he did nothing wrong," said Metselaar who admitted he was concerned over his own safety while he approached Eichhorn since the Honda was not in park.
Metselaar says Eichhorn’s hands were tightly clenched to the wheel and the man was hitting the officer’s hand while he was being removed from the vehicle.
The officer also testified that he had to jab Eichhorn with a baton because he was physically difficult to control as he continued to resist.
Eichhorn, who now works as a teacher, alleges police displayed discreditable conduct, used excessive force and failed to provide a follow-up or a police witness report.
Final arguments are scheduled for tomorrow and a decision from the Alberta Law Enforcement Review Board could take weeks to a month.