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When the B.C. RCMP bust down your door, who pays for it?

A Chilliwack woman learned the hard way that even as an innocent homeowner she’s on the hook
Teresa Hedekar by the front door of her Chilliwack home on Oct. 4, 2021, a door that was busted down by RCMP Emergency Response Team officers on April 13, 2021 looking for a suspect hiding in her basement suite. Hedekar is out hundreds of dollars because the RCMP refuse to pay for the damage. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)

Teresa Hedekar knew she had a problem tenant in the basement suite of her house, but when she went to Walmart with a friend one spring afternoon she was shocked at the scene when she got home.

RCMP squad cars had a part of Lenora Crescent blocked in both directions for a long stretch of the road in front of her house. Members of the RCMP’s Emergency Response Team (ERT) were out front, guns drawn.

Looking for a wanted man, the cops spent hours with loudspeakers trying to convince him to come out.

Finally, they smashed through the back glass sliding door and stormed the basement going through every room, knocking down a bedroom door, cutting the linoleum with glass under their boots.

They found no one, so then they broke down the front door to Hedekar’s 45-year-old home still coming up empty-handed.

Finally, a second search of the basement turned up 36-year-old Bruce James Madill hiding in a cupboard behind some cereal boxes. He was illegally visiting the female tenant, and it’s unclear if she was even home.

Arrest made. Neighbours sent home. Story over.

But what about the thousands of dollars in damage the ERT members caused to the home?

“The lead officer told my mom, ‘Don’t worry, this will all be taken care of and paid by the police department,’” Hedekar’s daughter Sheri Longstaff said.

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“Yes, the police officer said it will be paid for,” Hedekar confirmed. “They said ‘get your estimate and get your quote.’ It was hard to get that this spring and summer but I got them all lined up, put $7,000 down on holding these contractors.”

The incident was on April 13. Five months later, and Hedekar continued to get the run-around by the RCMP. Finally, she was told recently that because of the circumstances, the claim will not be covered by the Mounties.

She was told it was up to her tenant and/or Madill to pay for the damages.

“(The tenant) is on welfare and he’s going to be incarcerated. You can’t get money out of a stone. I was devastated, I was just so devastated,” she said. “I’m a pensioner.”

Asked about the cirumstances of the arrest and the damage done, Chilliwack RCMP directed The Progress to “E” Division, RCMP headquarters in Surrey who in turn sent questions to national headquarters in Ottawa.

No one from the RCMP would speak to the ERT operation at Hedekar’s house.

“Claims against the Crown resulting from police operations are subject to the requirements of Treasury Board policies relating to claims,” read a statement sent via email. “Claims are reviewed and assessed for liability and payment is based on the facts and merits of each individual case.”

Nancy Brar is a Vancouver human rights lawyer with Acumen Law Corporation who says the RCMP’s response to Hedekar seems wrong.

“If they had a warrant out, they knew they were going to be dealing with this,” Brar told The Progress. “The fact that they said they would compensate her is another problem.”

Brar said Hedekar’s only option is to make a claim against the Crown, and with her house insurance covering most of the costs now, it would be complicated and expensive and not worth it. She said forcing the victim here, the homeowner, to go after the tenant is unrealistic.

“The reality is that most of the time when this kind of stuff happens, the tenant wouldn’t have the money to cover that. They are really asking the impossible of the person whose house they destroyed.”

As for Hedekar, the whole thing has been traumatizing. Luckily most, but not all, of the bill will be covered by her house insurance. But she’s lost 25 pounds due to stress over the last six months now, and her front door and back door are still not fixed.

“It’s so depressing and I feel victimized,” she said.

Madill is charged with uttering threats and uttering threats to burn, destroy or damage for a K file (domestic) 10 days before the ERT incident. He is scheduled for a one-day trial on Feb. 16, 2022. He is also charged with two counts of breaches of his release for the April 13 incident. He is expected to plead guilty to those charges in Chilliwack provincial court on Nov. 5.

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