Steroid use allegations added to civil suit against RCMP officer

Suit alleges former Terrace RCMP officer used excessive force after local man was arrested

Allegations of steroid use are now a factor in a civil suit filed by a woman who says a former Terrace RCMP officer assaulted her husband to the point it left him with a permanent brain injury two years ago.

In a civil suit filed January 17, 2014, Heather Prisk said RCMP Const. Brian Heideman assaulted her husband Robert Wright at the RCMP detachment after he was arrested April 21, 2012 for impaired driving, resulting in her husband suffering brain damage to the point that he now requires full-time care.

The civil case, amended Sept. 22, 2014, now alleges under the legal basis for the case, that Heideman was ingesting steroids “which caused him to be unduly aggressive and violent with the plaintiff….”

The civil suit states Wright was taken by Heideman and two other officers into a cell, where he was told to kneel on a concrete bench above the floor and, while kneeling on the bench in an uncomfortable position, Wright tried to reposition his legs at which point Heideman “violently, unexpectedly and negligently threw the plaintiff (Wright) to the ground, causing the plaintiff’s head to sustain injuries, the most significant of which was a traumatic brain injury and thereafter dragging the plaintiff across the cell floor while unconscious and kneeling on his backside,” read the civil case.

“The incident resulted in the plaintiff being assaulted, battered and/or negligently injured by the defendant Heideman who used excessive and negligent amounts of force when dealing with the plaintiff….” continued the civil case.

Heideman and two other officers, all of whom have since been transferred, were reprimanded and docked eight days pay by a RCMP disciplinary board for involvement with steroids.

The disciplinary report, released this past July, said that from March 27, 2008 to May 30, 2012, Heideman worked out at a local gym along with other RCMP officers and had discussed with a former officer, who subsequently resigned from the force, the possibility of using steroids as part of his fitness regime.

During that time, Heideman had ordered and received steroids which he “had intended to utilize for his own personal consumption…” and each time he “was aware that the steroids he obtained were substances listed under…the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act,” said the disciplinary report.

The possession of steroids is not illegal but it is illegal to traffic steroids, said the report.

And Terrace RCMP inspector Dana Hart, who has been the officer in charge of the detachment here since Aug. 15, 2011, has also been added in the suit’s amended information.

The document now includes under its statement of facts that “Inspector Dana Hart was at all material times the most senior officer responsible for the Terrace RCMP detachment.”

It also states that the “actions of Hart constitute negligence, the particulars of which are failing to suspend, discipline or take remedial action against Heideman when Hart knew or should [have] known that Heideman was predisposed to act violently towards people, and, in particular First Nations people, based on prior incidents as well as Heideman’s ingestion and use of steroids which made him more aggressive and violent, which Hart knew or should have known about prior to the incident.”

Although Hart has been added in the information as part of the amended suit, he has not been added as a defendant.

Heideman and the provincial government remain as the only defendants.

A trial date for the civil case has been set for February 2016.

Heideman filed a response March 26, 2014 denying virtually all of the allegations except one paragraph where he agrees he was a member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

Following Wright’s injuries in April 2012, which resulted in his hospitalization, Hart called in the New Westminster police for an investigation.

New Westminster police officers subsequently sent a report to provincial Crown counsel lawyers.

Crown counsel lawyers declined to lay charges against any RCMP officer, saying “the available evidence does not establish that the force used by police in the incident went beyond what is legally permissible under the Criminal Code.

“Under Canadian criminal law, where a police officer’s use of force is lawful, the officer cannot be held criminally culpable for injury or even death which may result from that use of force….,” the report stated.

“Given that the crown cannot prove that the force used by police in dealing with Mr. Wright was either unnecessary or excessive, there is no substantial likelihood of conviction on any offence in these circumstances,” the report continued.

Heideman was also involved in another altercation, this time on May 15, 2012 after Terrace resident William Watts called police for assistance in dealing with a family member.

Watts said he was punched, subjected to racist slurs and had a spit bag put over his head after he was arrested for being belligerent and aggressive.

In this circumstance, crown counsel lawyers also declined to lay charges against any RCMP officer.

“Crown counsel has concluded that the available evidence does not reliably establish the accuracy of allegations that the arresting officer repeatedly punched Mr. [William] Watts in the head,” said a lengthy statement from the provincial government’s criminal justice branch.

Criminal charges were never laid against Wright or Watts.

Heideman is now with the Vernon RCMP detachment.