The parents of a man killed in a high-speed crash in June 2011 are suing the Abbotsford Police Department (APD) and the RCMP, saying they contributed to his death.
In a notice of civil claim filed Nov. 26 in B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver, Roger and Gillian Pinette claim that their son, Jeremy, 32, lost control of his vehicle while being pursued by police on Highway 1 in Langley.
They state that Jeremy, who lived in Abbotsford, had friends who were members or associates of the Hells Angels. Members of the APD and RCMP “repeatedly approached” him, starting in 2008, to become an informant, they allege.
When he refused, the police began a campaign of “harassment and intimidation,” according to the Pinettes’ claim.
According to the court documents, this included searching his vehicle without cause, slashing the tires on a truck he was driving, and threatening to tell his friends that he was an informant if he did not provide them with information.
“The harassment caused him anxiety and fear for his personal safety, his reputation and his property,” the notice of civil claim states.
On June 4, 2011, Jeremy was driving his Dodge Viper west on 56 Avenue at 272 Street in Aldergrove when he was spotted by police. He then entered the freeway at 264 Street, heading west, and crashed into the grassy median on Highway 1 at 248 Street.
He was estimated to have been travelling at speeds of 160 km/h. His vehicle rolled over and pinned him, killing him instantly.
Police at the time said, although they had spotted him on 56 Avenue and turned on their emergency equipment, they lost sight of him and did not pursue him.
However, the Pinettes allege that police misled them about the circumstances, and they received conflicting reports over the next several months about the incident.
Among the information they say they received in the months following the crash was that Jeremy was pursued along the on-ramp onto the freeway and by another officer while he was on Highway 1.
The Pinettes claim that police concealed records from them, including refusing to provide GPS data and recordings of audio transmissions from the RCMP.
They said this caused them emotional distress, led to them receiving delayed information about the circumstances of their son’s death, and postponed their efforts to obtain legal advice.
“When relaying the circumstances leading to the death of a loved one, the police have a duty to the deceased’s next of kin to relay those circumstances in good faith and with candor and to take reasonable care to ensure the accuracy of the information relayed,” the notice of civil claim states.
The Pinettes are seeking general, special and punitive damages for the loss of their son’s life and the future income he would have provided, as well as for the emotional distress they say they endured over the alleged misinformation they received.
The allegations in the lawsuit have not yet been proven in court. A response to the claim has not yet been filed by the APD or the RCMP.