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Skateboarder fined hundreds for skating in village

Police investigate early morning arrest, Taser warning



A young skateboarder has been fined $350 for skateboarding in the village after what he describes as a terrifying arrest in the early hours of the morning.

"(I’ve) never experienced anything like that," said Matt Burns, who was chased down by police, threatened with a Taser, and arrested.

Burns made an official complaint to the RCMP about the arrest and the police are now investigating the incident.

The 19-year-old skateboarder had just finished the night shift at Subway on Friday, July 29 when he put down his board and started skating over the pedestrian bridge near the village fire hall. It was just after 1 a.m.

Though he heard someone yelling "stop" he said he didn’t realize the command was directed at him and continued skating.

The police, however, say Burns saw them, picked up his board immediately and started running.

As soon as Burns heard his chasers threaten to use a Taser and begin the countdown to shoot him, he stopped immediately. He was arrested on Blackcomb Way close to the fire hall and taken back to the police station.

"(I was) scared out of my mind," said Burns.

RCMP spokesperson Constable Devon Jones explained Burns was arrested for obstruction. According to their report, the young skateboarder saw the police and chose to run away.

"That falls within what’s called resistant behaviour and if someone runs away, that’s considered resistant behaviour," said Jones.

"They know they’re doing wrong, they’re knowingly skateboarding in the village. It’s adequately signed… At any point in the village you can see a sign either on the cobblestone or up on the wall saying that it’s a maximum $2,000 fine, no skateboarding or riding their bikes."

Normally, Jones explained, the police give verbal warnings and simply impound the bike or board. After his arrest Burns was fined $350, with an extra $50 as the impound fee for his board.

"This year it just seems that the verbal warnings that we’re giving out just (aren’t) working because it just continues to be a big problem in the village," said Jones.

"It’s something that we are definitely cracking down on."

Municipal Bylaw Officer Sandra Smith confirmed there has been a rise in the numbers of people riding in the village and there have been cases where pedestrians have been hit.

The increase is due in part to the success of the Whistler Mountain Bike Park, where she said riders typically stay on their bikes and ride through the village after riding on the mountain.

"With the increase and the success of the bike park, which we support, it’s been tough," she said.

"There’s a rash of people requesting that we get out there and enforce the bylaw because they’re concerned about young children and concerned about themselves getting hit by cyclists and skateboarders as well."

Smith added that officers are warning skaters and cyclists repeatedly to no avail.

"So we felt that we need to start actually doing some more enforcement," she said.

Burns admits he was breaking a bylaw but he argues the village streets were quiet in the early morning hours.

But Jones said the bylaw isn’t enforceable only at certain times of the day or night.

"Is it considered fair to not enforce a law at certain time of the day? Liability is a liability, right?" he said.

The day after the arrest, Burns issued a formal complaint to the police about the treatment he received during the arrest.

An investigation of the male officer is now underway.

Jones said he was comfortable saying the officer acted within the scope of his duties.

"If there is a complaint towards an RCMP member, every time it’s taken seriously," explained Jones. "It’s reviewed by management within the office or sometimes, if deemed necessary, reviewed by management from another office."

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