A misconduct investigation into a Nelson officer accused of excessive force has been handed over to a retired judge following disagreement between the department and the organization that oversees complaints against municipal police in B.C.
Sgt. Nathaniel Holt is the subject of an investigation by the Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner (OPCC) after allegedly injuring Ron Bendle during an incident on June 10, 2021.
A Vancouver Police Department officer investigated the allegation on behalf of the OPCC, who said Thursday that Commissioner Clayton Pecknold found “there was a reasonable basis to disagree” with Nelson Police Department Chief Donovan Fisher’s opinion Holt was not guilty of misconduct.
Deputy Chief Raj Saini declined to comment on the Nelson department’s disciplinary decision while the case was still ongoing. The retired judge appointed to adjudicate the case is considered independent of both the OPCC and municipal departments.
Bendle has also filed a lawsuit against Holt, Const. Lisa Schmidtke, the police department and the City of Nelson.
His notice of civil claim, which was filed in B.C. Supreme Court last month in Vancouver, says Schmidtke pulled Bendle over during a traffic stop. He allegedly left the vehicle to retrieve insurance papers from his trunk when Holt drew his firearm, struck Bendle in the face with the butt of the weapon and then punched him several more times as Bendle was on the ground.
Bendle was taken to hospital and says he suffered injuries including a concussion, facial fractures, lacerations, an arm fracture and a loss of consciousness. It also says he was never charged.
The police department’s account of the incident has not been made public. The defendants in Bendle’s lawsuit have also not yet filed a statement of defence.
Police departments are not obligated to disclose OPCC investigations. Bendle’s allegations were made public in November 2022 when he posted a short video to Facebook that showed a bruised face with two black eyes and a cut over his left eyebrow.