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

Ben Williams, second from left, receives the Rotary Club of Duncan Student of the Month Award for September from club president Gregg Perry and Student of the Month program coordinator Kim Barnard. To the left is teacher sponsor Tom Veenstra. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Duncan Christian standout is Rotary Student of the Month for September

Ben Williams has made an impression at DCS since day one

Cowichan LMG’s Michael Fusick plows through a Nanaimo defender during last Friday’s game at the Sherman Road turf. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Depth a concern for Cowichan LMG

Div. 1 club expecting reinforcements soon

The City of Duncan is applying to the province for a grant that would cover most of the costs of the new Cairnsmore roundabout that is planned the intersection of Government, College and Cairnsmore streets. (File photo)
City of Duncan looking to grant to cover cost of Cairnsmore traffic circle

Federal government would cover 60%, province would pick up the other 40%.

Angie Fournier. who served as office coordinator for the Cowichan Lake Community Services, stands with the society’s community bus in this picture. (File photo)
Community Service Society vital for Lake Cowichan

Dozens of programs and other services offered

Premier John Horgan and Rob Douglas, BC NDP candidate for Cowichan Valley, meet with Cowichan First Nation elders, as they demonstrate spearfishing along the river. (Submitted)
Horgan acknowledges A&E sector hit hard by COVID-19, but showing signs of recovery

Hollywood North doing better than Hollywood South, Horgan says

B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry gives a daily briefing on COVID-19 cases at an almost empty B.C. Legislature press theatre in Victoria, B.C., on March 25, 2020. (Don Craig/B.C. government)
B.C. sees 223 new COVID-19 cases, now 2,009 active

Two new care home outbreaks in Surrey, Burnaby

100 Mile Conservation officer Joel Kline gingerly holds an injured but very much alive bald eagle after extracting him from a motorist’s minivan. (Photo submitted)
B.C. driver thought he retrieved a dead bald eagle – until it came to life in his backseat

The driver believed the bird to be dead and not unconscious as it turned out to be

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

Chastity Davis-Alphonse took the time to vote on Oct. 21. B.C’s general Election Day is Saturday, Oct. 24. (Chastity Davis-Alphonse Facebook photo)
B.C. reconciliation advocate encourages Indigenous women to vote in provincial election

Through the power of voice and education Chastity Davis-Alphonse is hopeful for change

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

White Rock RCMP Staff Sgt. Kale Pauls has released a report on mental health and policing in the city. (File photos)
White Rock’s top cop wants to bill local health authority for lengthy mental-health calls

‘Suggestion’ included in nine-page review calling for ‘robust’ support for healthcare-led response

A Le Chateau retail store is shown in Montreal on Wednesday July 13, 2016. Le Chateau Inc. says it is seeking court protection from creditors under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act to allow it to liquidate its assets and wind down its operations.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Clothing retailer Le Chateau plans to close its doors, files for CCAA protection

Le Chateau said it intends to remain fully operational as it liquidates its 123 stores

Green party Leader Sonia Furstenau arrives to announce her party’s election platform in New Westminster, B.C., on October 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. Green party says it’s raised nearly $835,000 in 38 days

NDP Leader John Horgan is holding his final virtual campaign event

Most Read