The Vancouver Law Courts. (Black Press Media file)

The Vancouver Law Courts. (Black Press Media file)

B.C. RCMP officer suing the force over alleged harassment and malicious prosecution

Jeffrey Van Woerden was acquitted of assaulting a known gang member during an arrest

RCMP officer Jeffrey Van Woerden says his career first started to go sideways nine years ago when he issued a violation ticket to the wife of a retired Mountie.

He claims that’s when his once successful career was sabotaged, first with improper pressure to cancel the ticket, which was followed by ongoing harassment and later a “malicious prosecution” followed by internal disciplinary proceedings.

Van Woerden filed a lawsuit against the RCMP in civil court in Vancouver on April 19 claiming a long list of damages, including post-traumatic stress disorder, loss of income, security costs, mental distress, and legal fees.

While Van Woerden points to the motor vehicle ticket as the start of his harassment within the RCMP, it was his arrest of known gang member and violent offender James Vidal in 2013 that really got him into hot water.

It was Nov. 17, 2013, when Van Woerden pulled over a taxi carrying Vidal and his girlfriend as part of an impaired driving check stop. What occurred next was the subject of dispute for six years, with Van Woerden claiming he was assaulted by Vidal, and Vidal claiming he was assaulted by Van Woerden.

“Vidal physically resisted being placed under arrest, verbally and physically assaulting the Plaintiff (Van Woerden) in the process,” according to Van Woerden’s civil claim, which is technically against the Attorney General of Canada and the B.C. Minister of Justice and Attorney General.

Vidal was charged with assault of a police officer and resisting arrest. But at trial, Van Woerden claims the RCMP dropped the ball regarding video evidence shot by Vidal’s girlfriend. Eventually, the were charges dropped. In dismissing the charges, the judge went so far as to say Van Woerden’s evidence was unreliable, non-credible and his actions “were not lawful.”

Van Woerden’s civil claim says the RCMP then had the video enhanced and the police force “maliciously and/or negligently” also concluded he acted illegally. Van Woerden was charged with assault with a weapon, assault causing bodily harm, and perjury.

“The allegations demonstrate conduct that is not in keeping of my expectations for our members,” RCMP Supt. Deanne Burleigh, officer in charge of the Upper Fraser Valley Regional Detachment said at that time. “Const. Van Woerden will now have an opportunity to answer to these allegations in court.”

In February 2019, Van Woerden was acquitted on all counts in BC Supreme Court.

In his civil claim, Van Woerden says the RCMP should have known that Vidal had been convicted of serious crimes and he had a reputation for violence, including resisting arrest and should have taken that into account. He said Vidal’s photo was posted on the prolific offender board at the detachment listing him as armed and dangerous, violent and an escape risk, and physically described as 5’11” and 345 pounds.

In an unrelated incident, Vidal was murdered in a hail of bullets just 18 days after Van Woerden’s acquittal. No one has been charged in that homicide.

READ MORE: B.C. Mountie acquitted of 2013 assault of a man murdered Sunday in Chilliwack

READ MORE: IHIT identify Chilliwack homicide victim as James Vidal

A statement about the civil claim issued by Van Woerden’s lawyer Michelle Tribe said he now is “merely seeking to reinstate his life back to the point it would have been minus harassment and wrongful prosecution by the RCMP.”

The statement said the events of the last 7.5 years have had a significant impact on Van Woerden and his family, which has included threats made against him along with the allegations made by the RCMP.

“Ultimately, the Van Woerdens have lost their dream home, their community and Mr. Van Woerden’s career. They are in the process of trying to rebuild what they have lost.”

The RCMP has not yet filed a response.


Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email:
editor@theprogress.com

@PeeJayAitch
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Demonstrators lined Hwy 16 May 5 to mark the National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. (Deb Meissner photo)
VIDEO: Smithers gathering marks Red Dress Day honouring missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls

Approximately 70 people lined Hwy 16, drumming, singing and holding up placards

“Skeena,” by John Hudson and Paul Hanslow is one of five fonts in the running to become the default for Microsoft systems and Office programs. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Font named after Skeena River could become the next Microsoft default

One of the five new fonts will replace Calibri, which has been Microsoft’s default since 2007

The road to Telegraph Creek (Hwy 51) was closed April 15 due to a washout. On May 4, the road was opened to light-duty passenger vehicles during specific times. (BC Transportation and Infrastructure/Facebook)
Telegraph Creek Road opens for light-duty vehicles

Road has been closed since April 15 due to a washout

FILE – Residents of the Kahnawake Mohawk Territory southwest of Montreal continue to monitor a blockade leading to blocked railroad tracks that pass through their community as they protest in support of Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs on Sunday, March 1, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Peter McCabe
B.C. Supreme Court rejects Wet’suwet’en bid to toss LNG pipeline certificate

Opposition last year by Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs set off Canada-wide rail blockades

On any given day, Brenda Mallory can be found holding court in her front yard on her acreage near Tyhee Lake. (Thom Barker photo)
Spice of Brenda: Our long-time columnist gets frank (when wasn’t she?)

Brenda Mallory has packed a lot of creativity into her life

Protesters attempt to stop clear-cutting of old-growth trees in Fairy Creek near Port Renfrew. (Will O’Connell photo)
VIDEO: Workers, activists clash at site of Vancouver Island logging operation

Forest license holders asking for independent investigation into incident

Victoria police say the photo they circulated of an alleged cat thief was actually a woman taking her own cat to the vet. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Victoria police photo of suspected cat thief was just a woman with her own cat

Police learned the she didn’t steal Penelope the cat, and was actually taking her cat to the vet

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker Louis S. St-Laurent sails past a iceberg in Lancaster Sound, Friday, July 11, 2008. The federal government is expected to end nearly two years of mystery today and reveal its plan to build a new, long overdue heavy icebreaker for the Canadian Coast Guard. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Vancouver, Quebec shipyards to each get new heavy icebreaker, cost remains a mystery

Vancouver’s Seaspan Shipyards and Quebec-based Chantier Davie will each build an icebreaker for the coast guard

Findings indicate a culture of racism, misogyny and bullying has gripped the game with 64 per cent of people involved saying players bully others outside of the rink. (Pixabay)
Misogyny, racism and bullying prevalent across Canadian youth hockey, survey finds

56% of youth hockey players and coaches say disrespect to women is a problem in Canada’s sport

People line up outside an immunization clinic to get their Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine in Edmonton, Tuesday, April 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Hospital investigating whether Alberta woman who died after AstraZeneca shot was turned away

Woman was taken off life support 12 days after getting vaccine

People line up for COVID-19 vaccination at a drop-in clinic at Cloverdale Recreation Centre on Wednesday, April 27, 2021. Public health officials have focused efforts on the Fraser Health region. (Aaron Hinks/Peace Arch News)
B.C. reports first vaccine-induced blood clot; 684 new COVID cases Thursday

Two million vaccine doses reached, hospital cases down

Allayah Yoli Thomas had recently turned 12 years old when she died of a suspected drug overdose April 15. (Courtesy of Adriana Londono)
Suspected overdose death of Vancouver Island 12 year old speaks to lack of supports

Allayah Yoli Thomas was found dead by her friend the morning of April 15

Most Read