Mike Snelgrove said he was minding his own business Sept. 11, parked on his ATV at the Stanhope Airport, when a police officer from the Haliburton Highlands OPP approached him.
He said the officer requested his licence, ownership and registration.
Snelgrove said a traumatic interaction with police in 2013 – which later led to conviction for growing cannabis illegally – has made him distrustful of police due to how he feels he was treated.
He claimed that after the officer said he would write Snelgrove a ticket because his license plate was not visible, he started recording with his phone, showing his licence place was dirty but readable.
In the video, which Snelgrove provided to The Highlander, he turns away from his licence plate towards the officer standing behind him. The video shows the officer hitting the phone out of Snelgrove’s hands. Snelgrove picks up the phone, approaches the officer, and shouts expletives. The officer then slaps the phone away again.
Snelgrove alleges the officer struck him in the forearm and he considers it an assault. He has not yet pressed charges.
“Still kind of upset,” Snelgrove said. “I don’t know what his problem was with me … Why was he still so aggressive with me for no reason?”
In the video, the officer says, “you don’t put a phone in my face” after first slapping the phone out of Snelgrove’s hands. He then repeats the instruction before slapping the phone away again. After Snelgrove takes a couple of steps back, the officer says, “if you want to videotape me, that’s fine, but do not stick it in my face.”
In response, Snelgrove says the officer approached him first from behind.
“He walks up right behind me and towers over me. All I did (before the officer slapped at the phone) was just turn,” Snelgrove alleges. “If he was concerned about being so close, why did he walk up right behind?”
Snelgrove said they were at least three feet apart the second time the officer struck, adding he feels that is not too close.
Snelgrove said he submitted a complaint to the Office of the Independent Police Review Director (OIPRD), an independent civilian agency that addresses public complaints against police.
Haliburton Highlands OPP Const. Amanda Gilbert confirmed a complaint was made to the OIPRD and said they could not comment further.
The OIPRD said due to the confidentiality provision in the Police Services Act, they cannot comment on individual complaints.
“The director believes that commenting on allegations of police misconduct in the media would compromise his ability to then investigate these allegations in a fair manner,” the OIPRD said in a statement to The Highlander.
The video goes on to show Snelgrove repeatedly swearing at the officer. There is conversation but no further physical altercation.
In the video, the officer says he is investigating a matter and the possibility Snelgrove confronted and threatened some other ATV riders on a weekend. Snelgrove denies it, and says he will sometimes greet riders who come on the trail near his property, but only in a friendly way.
The video shows a second officer arriving and speaking away from Snelgrove. The first officer eventually tells Snelgrove he is free to go, without any tickets or charges mentioned.
Snelgrove said although he did not know the officer he filmed, he thinks his history with police may have impacted how the officer treated him. But he added he finds that “atrocious” and said police should not hold grudges or treat anyone differently based on their past.
Snelgrove alleges his phone was damaged and needs replacing. He said he would drop the case if police pay for damages and the officer apologizes. He also wants an agreement that OPP do not use the officer in any dealings with him in future, other than a life-threatening scenario.
“It’s not good to have a beef with the police in general.”