A man has been fined for resisting police during a melee at a Swan River hotel that resembled a bar fight scene from a western movie.
During the bar brawl, which consisted of several fights, police were pelted with beer bottles.
“They say it takes two to tango, but a melee like that takes significantly more people,” Judge Donovan Dvorak remarked.
Dennis Jason Barker, 39, pleaded guilty in Brandon provincial court on Thursday to resisting arrest.
Crown attorney Yaso Mathu said that on July 27, 2008, RCMP were called to a large fight at the Nelson Motor Hotel in Swan River.
Six officers responded and were met by a hotel employee who told them: “You guys need to get in there, there’s a huge fight.”
The officers entered the bar to find it crammed with about 300 people, most of them drunk.
Barker — six-foot-three and 300 pounds — stood out amid several fights. He had another man on the floor who he was hitting in the face.
One police officer, fearing for the life of the man on the floor, went to arrest Barker but had to push his way through a number of people fighting and smashing beer bottles.
He hollered “Stop, police!” several times and pepper-sprayed Barker in the face. Barker, however, didn’t stop hitting the man on the floor.
The officer — while being struck in the back of the head by other people — put Barker in a headlock and told him: “Stop, police, you’re under arrest!”
Barker broke free and swung at the officer who, even while still being struck by others, drew his baton and went after Barker again with the help of another officer.
The two Mounties and Barker crashed into a table and fell to the floor. Barker landed on top of another man who he began to punch in the face, and wouldn’t stop even when struck by police several times with a baton.
Finally — with pepper spray hanging in the air and as 50 people tried to “get at” them — officers managed to handcuff Barker, who continued to resist all the way to a police car.
During the chaos, patrons threw beer bottles at police which shattered around them.
Two officers left the hotel with knee injuries and another with a back injury. Barker cut his foot when he stepped on a beer bottle.
Barker also pleaded guilty to missing court on April 29, 2009, and Dec. 15, 2010. He’d moved to Alberta while pending on the charges from the bar fight, but turned himself in after moving back to Manitoba. He now lives in Brandon.
As Barker had no prior criminal record and had stayed out of trouble since the original offence, Mathu said she was willing to recommend a high fine.
Dvorak fined Barker a total of $1,400 on all his charges.
No explanation was given in court for what had caused the brawl, and Barker said he didn’t remember as he was drunk.
The only hint of explanation was provided by Barker shortly after his arrest when he apologized to police: “Sorry for fighting with you guys … you would have done the same thing if your family was fighting.”
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