The front entrance of the Prince George Regional Correctional Centre. (Google Street View)

B.C. man sues corrections officers after fellow inmate dies in transfer van

Lawsuit claims two officers wouldn’t stop the van, despite inmates banging walls and shouting for help

A former inmate in northern B.C. has launched a lawsuit against two B.C. corrections officers, claiming they ignored calls for help as a fellow inmate was dying in the back of a van during an involuntary transfer to another facility.

According to documents filed on Monday (June 22), Gordon Michael Hansen was one of at least two inmates being “involuntarily transferred” from Prince George to a detention facility in the Lower Mainland on Oct. 4, 2018, when a fellow inmate allegedly ingested something and “appeared to pass out and slide off the bench.”

Hansen alleges he tried to help the inmate, who was unresponsive, while the other inmates in the van pounded on the walls and shouted for help. The lawsuit claims the two corrections officers upfront – named in the civil suit as James Brown and Bruce Cox – did not pull over. It’s believed they were just south of Quesnel at the time.

“The corrections officers’ only response to the shouting and pounding was to slam on the brakes and make the inmates fall,” the court documents read, going on to allege that the pair stopped the van for coffee in Williams Lake but didn’t check on the inmates.

ALSO READ: BC Corrections to expand list of eligible offenders for early release during pandemic

The van continued down Highway 97 with the officers finally stopping about 50 kilometres south of Williams Lake, Hansen claims. A passerby stopped and performed CPR but was unable to resuscitate the inmate. Paramedics arrived 40 minutes later.

Hansen alleges Brown and Cox “breached their duty of care” to him by failing to responds to the “repeated calls for help.”

Meanwhile, the former inmate is claiming that as operator of the corrections facility, the province allowed the two officers to operate the corrections van “when they knew, or should have known, that they lacked the proper skill, training and experience to properly operate the corrections van.”

Hansen claims he suffered personal psychological and emotional harm from the incident and continues to suffer from post traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, as well as insomnia and nervous shock.

None of the allegations have been proven in court. The defendants had not filed responses to the claim as of Wednesday at noon.

According to news reports shortly after the death of the inmate – identified as Alex Joseph – the BC Coroners Service, B.C. Corrections and RCMP launched investigations into the incident. The inmates were being transferred to Fraser Regional Correctional Centre in Maple Ridge.

Black Press Media has reached out to both the province and the union representing correctional officers for comment.


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

lawsuit

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

Just Posted

Nine new COVID-19 cases announced in Interior Health region

The total number of cases since the pandemic started is now at 531 for the region

Open burning prohibitions to be rescinded Sept. 30

The following activities will be allowed throughout the CFC’s jurisdiction:

Farmers’ market harvests successful season

Community steps up, supports vendors

School demolition brings up memories

Darlene ‘Dar’ Hastings couldn’t wait to attend the new 100 Mile High when it opened in 1960.

Volunteering ‘best way to expand your bubble’

Val Severin serves the community as a way to give back

B.C.’s top doctor encourages Halloween costumes to include masks

Dr. Bonnie Henry will soon be releasing guidelines on how to safely trick-or-treat this Halloween

Reincarnation, baby! Music-making B.C. couple celebrate ‘miracle’ pregnancy

‘I (said) to Adam, ‘I really think this is your brother reincarnated,’ Elise Estrada says

Survey finds doctors worry supplies of flu vaccine, PPE will lag demand

Canadian health officials have said additional flu vaccines have been ordered to meet expected demand

Search suspended for Indigenous elder last seen mushroom picking in northwest B.C.

Mushroom picker Thomas (Tommy) Dennis has been missing since Sept. 16

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

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Ahead of likely second wave, 60% of Canadians relaxing COVID-19 measures

Proportion of Canadians following safety measures has dropped by 3 per cent in the past two weeks

Canada’s population tops 38 million, even as COVID-19 pandemic slows growth

Immigration, the top population driver, decreased due to the pandemic

Lightning strike: Tampa Bay blanks Dallas 2-0 to win Stanley Cup

Hedman wins Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP

Most Read