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‘I was just asking for help,’ says Nelson resident who claims police assaulted him

A Nelson resident who claims he was assaulted by local police says accountability needs to be in place so others do not suffer the same pain and emotional trauma that he did.

Ron Bendle spoke publicly for the first time since posting a brief video of himself on Facebook sporting two black eyes following an incident on June 10, 2021.

In a statement last month, Nelson Police said the incident is now under investigation by the Vancouver Police Department, to determine whether Sgt. Nate Holt’s use of force was appropriate, but they would not comment further.

In an interview with Vista Radio, Bendle, 66, said he suffered severe injuries in what should have been a routine traffic stop. He says police pulled him over after he rolled through a stop sign near Central School while en route to visit his uncle at about 9:15 a.m.

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“I looked in my rearview mirror and it looked like a Christmas tree lit up,” says Bendle. “That is when I started having a PTSD attack.”

Bendle says he wasn’t trying to be combative with police during the stop, but trying to explain he suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and was asking for help from the officer who pulled him over. 

“I wasn’t in fight mode, I was in flight mode,” he says. “I tried to explain to her what was happening, and I was having a reaction to the way she pulled up to me. That is when I kept asking her to help me.”

He says after he regained his composure he wanted to help police but was astonished by what happened next. 

“I went into the back to get my insurance, and as soon as I got out, officer Holt said ‘I almost shot you.’ It was at that point I knew not to move a muscle, and the next thing I knew I was being beaten on the top of my head with a gun.”

Bendle says he was repeatedly punched which resulted in multiple injuries.

“I was punched several times in my face,” he says. “I had three fractures on my face, a broken nose that bled for two days, a broken arm and a really bad concussion. This was all for a rolling stop. I didn’t deserve this, especially when I was asking for help.”

Bendle says his faith in police accountability has been shaken, and he isn’t the same person he was before this all began.

“I had 100 per cent trust in the police,” he says. “After this I saw things I thought I would never see, I have heard stories about this but I never believed them until now.”

He says people need to be kept safe and there has to be accountability so this doesn’t happen to anyone else. 

“We need to start an accountability group, so we can keep our kids and seniors safe,” he says. 

According to Bendle’s advocate, Vancouver police offered to interview him, but they have not been  forthcoming in offering full disclosure. He says four videos of the incident exist, taken by various community members, but they have only seen a short excerpt of one of them.

According to the advocate, the interview was set up while the investigating officer was in Nelson, but they did not pursue it because there was no opportunity to view any evidence ahead of time to prepare. This made Bendle uncomfortable and he felt it was unfair.

The advocate says Bendle is not fully confident in the outcome of the investigation because he has heard there are few consequences when the police investigate their own. 

Bendle was initially charged with wilfully resisting or obstructing a peace officer, but the charges were dropped in August of this year. He still faces three traffic violations including speeding in a school zone and is due back in court on Dec. 21.

Bendle says he will dispute those charges. 

“I admit to the rolling stop but I didn’t deserve the others.”

He says the results of the incident have left him nervous, afraid, and with increased anxiety. 

“To this day I am afraid to leave my place,” he says. “My nerves are shot.”

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