One of the four RCMP officers at the centre of the Robert Dziekanski scandal is suing the government after the force allegedly threw him under the bus.
Gerry Rundel, an RCMP constable, has filed suit against the B.C. Minister of Justice and the Attorney-General of Canada alleging RCMP actions and statements in the wake of Dziekanski’s death by Taser have caused him irreparable damage.
“The plaintiff has 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,” a claim filed Monday in Nanaimo B.C. Supreme Court states.
“As a result of negligent conduct of the defendant, the plaintiff’s career with the RCMP has been effectively destroyed and any other future career path seriously and adversely affected.”
The suit states the defendants made Rundel a scapegoat by failing to publicly support him in the aftermath of the incident, by not making it clear he was not involved in any use of the Taser, and by not correcting misinformation reported in the initial press conference.
It further alleges they made public statements critical of his actions and suggested he had been disciplined despite the fact they knew, or ought to have known, he had acted appropriately according to his training and the policies in place at the time.
The Dziekanski case made international headlines after the Polish citizen was Tasered during a police incident at the Vancouver Airport on Oct. 14, 2007, and died.
Initial police statements regarding the incident conflicted with evidence that later surfaced, including a highly publicized video recording.
This led to allegations of a cover-up and a high-profile public inquiry into police conduct.
Rundel, who has been a member of the Nanaimo detachment and a city resident since being transferred from Richmond in the incident’s immediate aftermath, claims he has been exposed to public contempt and shamed despite the fact investigations by both the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team and the Criminal Justice branch cleared him of wrongdoing. He was also later acquitted of a charge of perjury.
“As a result of the RCMP’s mismanagement of information to the media and their persistent refusal to set the record straight there was increased international public perception of a cover-up of wrongdoing by the members involved,” the suit states.
The suit also claims Rundel has suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, anxiety and sleep disorder and “his credibility and his ability to function as an officer within the RCMP organization had been compromised.”
Off-duty on long-term sick leave, Rundel also alleges being pressured to return to work and threatened with a Code of Conduct investigation for making the following 2015 public statement:
“The RCMP need to publicly back their officers when they act according to training, policy and procedure, in order to prevent falsehoods from spinning out of control.”
The suit seeks unspecified compensation for past and future loss of income, as well as punitive damages.
None of the allegations contained in the suit have been proven. The B.C. Justice Ministry issued a statement to Black Press indicating they have yet to see the claim and will not be responding at this time.