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

Stock photo.
Grand Forks drug trafficker to be sentenced in Castlegar

Ryan Plotnikoff pleaded guilty to trafficking meth, following his November 2020 arrest by Grand Forks RCMP

Stuart Ashley Jones, 56, was at Grand Forks provincial court for sentencing on May 5, 2021. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
Grand Forks man shot by police during peak freshet sentenced to house arrest

Stuart Ashley Jones was shot by a Grand Forks Mountie after ramming two police cruisers in May 2018

Accused drug trafficker to plead to federal, provincial charges in June

Matthew Straume said he’d missed his last court date because he was ill

Photo: Laurie Tritschler
Grand Forks sex crimes trial adjourned until summer

The trial was set to begin at the city courthouse Wednesday, May 5

Photo: Kathleen Saylors
Grand Forks city council votes down motion to support Penticton in paramountcy battle

Coun. Neil Krog insisted Penticton’s issue with Victoria is about city bylaws, not homelessness

Thursday, Feb. 4: RDKB Chief Engineer Darryl Funk hoists a banner commemorating last year’s championship season by the Bantam House Bruins. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
Bantam Bruins honoured at hair-raising banner ceremony at Grand Forks’ Jack Goddard Arena

Asst. coach Mike Tollis said he reluctantly gave in to the team’s victory wish that he cut his pony tale

Junior A team Coquitlam Express is offering all Tri-City residents who get vaccinated against COVID-19 a free ticket to one of their games. (Facebook/Coquitlam Express)
B.C. hockey team offering free tickets to hometown fans who get the COVID-19 vaccine

‘We know the only way to get fans back is people getting vaccinated,’ says Express’ general manager Tali Campbell

Jobs Minister Ravi Kahlon speaks in the B.C. legislature, describing work underway to make a small business and tourism aid package less restrictive, Dec. 10, 2020. (Hansard TV)
B.C.’s latest COVID-19 restrictions cost thousands of service jobs

Part-time workers set back again by spike in virus spread

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

A sign indicating face coverings are required by the establishment is pictured on the front door of a business in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
A sign indicating face coverings are required by the establishment is pictured on the front door of a business in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Leaked report shows detailed B.C. COVID-19 data not being released to public

Documents obtained by the Vancouver Sun show cases broken down by neighbourhoods

Abbotsford school board trustee Phil Anderson has stepped down after sharing an offensive image on Facebook. (File photo)
Abbotsford trustee temporarily steps down after sharing post relating COVID masks to slavery

Phil Anderson to receive training to better understand provincial mask mandate after posting picture

B.C. announced the launch of an app May 7 that connects youth struggling with mental health and substance use with “life-saving” social services. (Screen grab)
5 years in the making: Mental health app for youth and children launches in B.C.

The province provided $1.6-million to fund a virtual care platform

Amazon has announced the creation of five new facilities in B.C., to employ about 2,000 people. (Amazon/Special to Black Press Media)
Amazon adds new facilities in Langley, Pitt Meadows, Delta, Vancouver

The Vancouver port centre will be the first Amazon centre to feature robotics in B.C.

Mahitha Mohan is working in Nelson as a community support worker at Community Connections Support Services. Photo: Bill Metcalfe
Immigration pilot targets hard-to-fill jobs in West Kootenay

Program helps newcomers get permanent residency status in rural areas

Most Read