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

Comments are closed

Just Posted

More rain in the forecast for Cariboo region

A risk of a thunderstorm for Tuesday afternoon

Cariboo vegetable farmer swamped by Fraser River flooding

Brianna van de Wijngaard was picking vegetables three feet below the water

Severe thunderstorm watch in effect for Cariboo, North Thompson region

Prince George, Quesnel, Williams Lake and 100 Mile House all under watch

International Safe Travels designation program approved for Gold Rush Trail, Cariboo Chilcotin Coast

World Travel and Tourism Council approves, businesses and communities can apply

Do you think recreation facilities in 100 Mile should reopen?

The weekly web poll for the 100 Mile Free Press

Horrifying video shows near head-on collision on Trans Canada

The video was captured on dash cam along Highway 1

Fraser Valley woman complains of violent RCMP takedown during wellness check

Mounties respond that she was not co-operating during Mental Health Act apprehension

B.C. sees 12 new COVID-19 cases, no new deaths

Three outbreaks exist in health-care settings

Lost dog swims Columbia River multiple times searching for home

The dog was missing from his Castlegar home for three days.

COVID-19: B.C. promotes video-activated services card

Mobile app allows easier video identity verification

ICBC to resume road tests in July with priority for rebookings, health-care workers

Tests have been on hold for four months due to COVID-19

Would you take a COVID-19 vaccine? Poll suggests most Canadians say yes

75 per cent of Canadians would agree to take a novel coronavirus vaccine

Budget officer pegs cost of basic income as calls for it grow due to COVID-19

Planned federal spending to date on pandemic-related aid now tops about $174 billion

Most Read