Calgary police laid assault charges against a man accused of throwing a punch at a wheelchair-bound man after a rally 10 days ago.
According to police, who said they have reviewed all available CCTV and body-worn camera footage and taken witness statements, laid the charge against a 65-year old man.
Police said the dispute didn’t meet the threshold for a hate crime.
They said they believe the man in the wheelchair instigated the encounter verbally and with the first physical contact, police said.
After a rally on March 20 at around 4:15 p.m., police said the accused left a rally at Prince’s Island Park and was approach by the man in the wheelchair. That person is alleged to have called the man an offensive name.
A verbal dispute happened and then the accused’s crucifix necklace was ripped off. The accused struck the wheelchair-bound man several times, police said. Friends of the man in the wheelchair gathered around the incident.
The accused had a flagpole when he left the rally and he made a jabbing motion towards the group, allegedly hitting a woman and knocking her back roughly 10 feet. There was a struggle and the man fell out of his wheelchair and the flagpole was broken.
One person tried to stop the dispute and the accused allegedly swung at that person, police said, then falling. Officers then intervened.
While the man in the wheelchair initiated the fight, police said the actions from the accused were beyond reasonable to stop a perceived threat or assault.
Milan Matusik, 65, was charged with assault and assault with a weapon, police said.
“A thorough review of this investigation determined the assault did not meet the threshold for hate crimes, or hate-motivated criminal allegations,” a Calgary Police Service release said.
“Finding a balance between the rights and freedoms of expression, with public safety and the impact these rallies have on the community, is extremely challenging. As a Service we strongly condemn racism and hate.”