Four Surrey RCMP members are set to face a civil trial against them for an alleged assault of a truck driver in 2016.
Trucker Bradley Marvin Degen of Surrey is suing the officers, two security guards and a wood products company after he claims to have been assaulted by the police.
The four constables named as defendants are: Dzikic, Nozifort, Perkins and Spoljar. The claim also implicates Vancouver Specialty Cedar Products and two of its security guards, Nancy Fontaine and Achille Fontaine.
The trial is set to begin August 16.
According to Degen’s claim, submitted by lawyer Thomas Harding of the Trial Lawyers Advocacy Group, on the evening of July 25, 2016, Degen had parked his semi-truck close to Vancouver Cedar’s warehouse on 134th Street; however, the gates were closed by his arrival. He decided to sleep in the truck with the engine running for air conditioning. The Fontaines were disturbed by the engine’s sound and called the RCMP and falsely reported Degen was drinking alcohol while operating the truck.
When constables Perkins and Spoljar showed up, awakening Degen, the trucker told the officers what he was doing, then rolled up the windows and returned to his sleeper. Then, the officers broke the truck’s windows and entered the cabin. They then used a Taser on him and repeatedly punched him in the head. He was stunned so hard that he went into convulsions and lost control of his bladder.
That night they charged Degen with assault of a peace officer and resisting arrest and Nozifort refused his request to speak to a lawyer.
Those charges were stayed Feb. 16, 2017.
Since the incident, Degen claims he’s sustained various injuries, including impaired memory, headaches and impaired motor skills as well as psychological injuries, such as anxiety and depression. He is seeking money for his injuries, loss of income and punitive damages to the defendants.
In a May 18, 2018, response to the January 25, 2018 claim, the Surrey officers, represented by the Province of B.C., deny the allegations of assault but appear to agree with some of the events that occurred that night.
In its response, the officers claim the security guards told them Degen was intoxicated outside his vehicle. The officers claim Degen responded to being woken up at 10:20 p.m. with an obscenity and that he appeared “dazed.”
Both parties appear to agree Degen rolled his window down after the officers were knocking on it.
However, Perkins claims to have been pushed off the truck’s foot step by Degen after the trucker was asked to step out of the vehicle, as they informed him they were investigating, on “reasonable and probable grounds,” the impaired care and control of a motor vehicle.
RCMP officers admit they smashed the truck’s windows with their batons and entered the vehicle. They claim Degen reached for tools in his sleeper, at which point the Taser was used twice on him. They claim this was a justified use of force.
They claim Degen was, in fact, offered a lawyer and read his Charter rights.
The case adds to Surrey RCMP detachment’s recent cluster of misconduct probes amid a political process to terminate it for a municipal police force.
In January, an officer was arrested in an anti-corruption probe for gang links and is now under investigation by BC RCMP (E Division).
On February 8, Surrey RCMP stopped a young man on a bicycle and allegedly assaulted him, resulting in facial injuries. The young man, reported to be Alex Fisher, went to media about the incident and subsequently an Independent Investigations Office file was opened.
And on March 13, the BC Prosecution Service charged Cst. John Tsonos of the Surrey RCMP and Cst. Matthew McGuire of the Richmond RCMP with one count of assault stemming from an October 19, 2019, vehicle stop in relation to a suspected stolen car.