WARNING: This story contains video and details which readers may find disturbing.
An Alberta man accused of assaulting three people, including two police officers, at the Winnipeg airport has received a conditional discharge, after video played at his trial showed him pleading for air when an officer pinned him down with a knee on his neck.
In a Dec. 17 decision, Manitoba provincial court Judge Dave Mann gave Nathan Lasuik, 44, a conditional discharge after he pleaded guilty to two of his assault charges and was found guilty of the third. Lasuik will be under supervised probation for one year.
He was arrested at James Richardson International Airport in Winnipeg on Aug. 1, 2019, after RCMP responded to a report of an intoxicated man who assaulted a person at the airport and then struck an officer in the face without provocation.
Video of the arrest, showing Lasuik being restrained on the ground with an officer’s knee to his neck, only came to light in August of this year, following a Winnipeg Free Press report on his trial.
Lasuik’s defence played the video in court, as part of their argument officers used excessive force in trying to subdue him.
In a news release last August, RCMP said when officers arrived at the airport, they tried to de-escalate the situation, but Lasuik became combative. He then hit one of the officers in the face, RCMP said.
After he was put in handcuffs, he kicked one of the officers in the groin. They then pinned him down to the ground, which is when the officer put his knee on the back of Lasuik’s neck, according to RCMP.
‘Let me breathe’
The video, recorded by Lasuik’s father, is over four minutes long. In it, Lasuik can be heard pleading for the officer to release his knee.
“Let me breathe, guys. Please, please, let me breathe,” Lasuik says.
While pinned down, a raspy-voiced Lasuik begs for someone to take a video of the arrest.
“Who’s got a video? I’m going to die. Help me. I can’t breathe.”
He is told by one of the officers that if he can talk, he can breathe.
WATCH | Video of Lauik’s 2019 arrest (WARNING: this video may be disturbing to viewers):
The Independent Investigation Unit of Manitoba — the province’s police watchdog — announced in August it was opening an investigation into the incident.
The details of the arrest, and the force used, drew comparisons to the murder of George Floyd.
Floyd was killed in May 2020 by a Minneapolis police officer who placed his knee on his neck, suffocating him. In a video recording of the arrest, Floyd repeatedly says “I can’t breathe.”
Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was found guilty of second-degree unintentional murder in April 2021. Last week, he also pleaded guilty to federal charges of violating Floyd’s civil rights.
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