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Mountie in airport death case sues RCMP for negligence, harassment

June 11, 2016 - 6:30 PM

VANCOUVER - A Mountie who responded the night a Polish immigrant died at Vancouver's airport has filed a lawsuit against the RCMP alleging negligence and harassment.

Const. Bill Bentley has filed a notice of civil claim in B.C. Supreme Court naming the Attorney General of Canada and B.C.'s justice minister as defendants.

Bentley was one of four officers who confronted Robert Dziekanski at the airport in October 2007, when the man was stunned with a Taser and died.

Court documents from the lawsuit allege that Bentley received a call of support from the commissioner of the RCMP shortly after the incident, but the force's support quickly waned.

The notice of claim alleges the RCMP mismanaged information in the case, creating public perception of wrongdoing by the officers, and that Bentley was made a "scapegoat" for public criticism.

"Throughout the ordeal ... the plaintiff has been a loyal member of the RCMP and has been prevented from publicly defending himself to the wrongful allegations about him by both the RCMP and the media as a result of his oaths and orders received from superior officers," the claim states.

Allegations in the documents have not been proven in court and statements of defence have not been filed.

All four officers were charged with perjury for allegedly colluding and giving false testimony at a subsequent public inquiry into Dziekanski’s death.

Bentley was acquitted in 2013, and a bid by prosecutors to overturn the not-guilty verdict was tossed out by the B.C. Appeals Court last year.

The RCMP's handling of the case, including the perjury charge, has had serious psychological impacts on Bentley, the claim alleges. The documents say the Mountie was diagnosed with chronic post-traumatic stress disorder and major depressive disorder in June 2010.

The claim also alleges that an RCMP psychologist harassed and bullied Bentley throughout his treatment, acting in a "rude and unprofessional manner" and saying he would not provide documentation necessary for the officer's career if he did not "own his actions."

Interactions with the psychologist caused Bentley "significant stress and anxiety," the court documents claim.

The Mountie has not returned to active duty with the force and the claim alleges his career with the RCMP has been "effectively destroyed."

It says Bentley "suffered permanent and irreparable harm including extreme embarrassment, loss of reputation, extreme stress resulting in disabling psychological and physical injury, personal expense and financial loss and he will continue so to suffer."

Court documents do not specify how much Bentley is seeking in compensation.

Const. Gerry Rundel, another officer who responded the night Dziekanski died, launched a similar lawsuit in March, which also alleges RCMP negligence and harassment.

News from © The Canadian Press, 2016
The Canadian Press

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