Vancouver, British Columbia – A vocal group of online critics are claiming that amidst a rapidly changing tide of public confidence in the Vancouver Police Department’s ability to lay charges stemming from the Vancouver riots, the legal team for one high profile rioter is attempting to whitewash his involvement in hopes of a reduced sentence.
Water Polo Canada darling Nathan Kotylak became a national poster-child of the Vancouver riots after he was filmed and photographed attempting to light a Vancouver Police car on fire, setting several garbage cans ablaze, and allegedly assaulting another female rioter.
Update: Nathan Kotylak flees Canada ahead of Water Polo Canada suspension
Public outcry was swift, with groups budding up on Facebook calling for Kotylak’s lifetime ban from the Olympic team, to groups showing support for the Olympic team hopeful run mainly by classmates and ex girlfriends.
After claims of threats of violence against person and home, Nathan Kotylak and his parents fled from their Maple Ridge residence and have remained in relative obscurity until comments made recently by Bart Findlay, the family lawyer, have stirred up public sentiment once again.
Just days ahead of an announcement made on Tuesday by the Vancouver Police Department that charges will begin being laid as early as October of this year, a Vancouver Sun article appeared September 3rd where Findlay says “his client has spent the past two months trying to make amends for his actions during the riot.”
According to his lawyer, Nathan Kotylak spent 70 hours over the past two months volunteering his time in secret at the Maple Ridge Salvation Army and Vancouver’s Union Gospel Mission helping to prepare food and clean dishes.
“He was a good worker, a very pleasant young man,” said Tim Sarsfield, food services manager at the Maple Ridge Salvation Army. “As far as I understand he’s gone to university and we’re hoping he’ll return in December.”
Nathan Kotylak’s tearful apology previously deemed scripted and insincere by detractors, and his week and a half of community service spent with organizations not affected directly by the riots, has one Vancouver resident pushing for a deeper inquiry to Kotylak’s involvement.
And for good reason.
25-year-old Andrew Perry was present the night of the Vancouver riots and risked his own safety by attempting to protect city property, and more notably, the Vancouver Police cruisers that Nathan Kotylak repeatedly attempted to set on fire.
“I first saw Nathan at the scene of the two VPD police cruisers” said Andrew Perry to the Canada Headlines Examiner. “I had been deflecting various rioters from damaging the cruisers, and Nathan made multiple attempts to torch them.”
“I pulled the burning rag from the gas tank with another gentleman,” continued Perry “and I removed burning paper that Nathan had placed in the interior of the vehicle.”
One of the main cases that counsel for Nathan Kotylak have maintained is that the teenager was caught up up in “mob mentality” which Perry claims does not stand up.
“I was face-to-face with Nathan when I removed the burning paper from the cruiser,” said Perry “and I immediately noticed his calm demeanor.”
“He didn’t act erratically like most of the rioters,” continued Perry “and whenever I removed material that he had burned, it was evident that he was disappointed.”
The disappointment displayed by Nathan Kotylak numerous times that evening, is now being displayed more so by Perry given the fact that the community service Kotylak is alleged to have performed in no way benefitted the businesses, organizations or law enforcement agencies targeted during the riots.
“If [Kotylak’s] community service was performed in his home of Maple Ridge,” said Perry “how does that restore the integrity of the city of Vancouver? How does that benefit a business owner who had his prosperity wiped out? Would we be content if an arsonist who burnt down a portion of Stanley Park planted a few trees in Whistler? This situation is the same to me.”
“Unless [the community service] was mandated by a Justice of the Peace,” continued Perry “I don’t think it should have any bearing [on sentencing]. It is evident that [Kotylak] has a bright father, who is doing his best to salvage his son’s future.”
Added Perry, “If his sentence were reduced because of this, our justice system is essentially consenting to criminals choosing their own sentence.”
Media outlets in Vancouver and substantially more in Nathan Kotylak’s home town of Maple Ridge have gone to great lengths to support the case that Kotylak has been unjustly used as a scapegoat by those upset over the Vancouver riots, a case that Andrew Perry doesn’t fully agree with.
It is true that he has become an icon of the complete devolution of society that night, but this is not without reason. The police are meant to be a symbol of peace and order, and this man made repeated attempts, with no regard for the safety of those around him, to torch two VPD police cruisers. His actions were calm and calculated. He grew up with a successful and affluent family, with the aptitude to become a great athlete. It is very unfortunate that with every advantage to become a good person and a strong leader, he rejected his moral integrity to watch the flames flicker as the reputation of our city, our country, and our hockey team burned up in the night.
On one side of the coin, you have a family with a savvy lawyer making a case for a client they want seen as sympathetic, brave and remorseful and on the other side an impassioned group of citizens who have been promised by the Vancouver Police Department that the harshest penalties will be applied to all those charged.
When asked if there is anything from the night of the riots that he feels the public has not been made aware of, Andrew Perry dropped a bombshell, no pun intended, that the Vancouver Police should take note of – as well as Nathan Kotylak’s defense team.
“I think it is vital that people realize that there were groups of premeditated rioters inciting the crowds that night equipped with incendiary devices,” said Perry.
“It is not enough to dismiss anyone involved in arson as being ‘caught up in the moment'” continued Perry. “There are various steps that one needs to know to torch the gas tank of a vehicle, and coupled with Nathan’s calm demeanor throughout the night, we have a duty to remain suspicious of his intentions.”
Added Perry, “I will not go so far as to condemn him, but his behavior should be seen as nothing less than militant.”
To date, neither the City of Vancouver, the Vancouver Police Department, nor the Government of British Columbia have publicly recognized Andrew Perry for his part in trying to protect the two police cruisers.
A request for interview place at the offices of Bart Findlay remained unanswered by print time.
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