WINNIPEG — A central figure in the inquiry into the fumbled police investigation of the death of Crystal Taman is suing the RCMP, several of its officers and the chief of police of a rural Manitoba police force.
Jason Woychuk, who arrived on scene north of Winnipeg after Taman’s small convertible was struck from behind by a pickup truck driven by an off-duty Winnipeg police officer, Derek Harvey-Zenk, filed a statement of claim in Queen’s Bench, alleging the actions of the RCMP officer involved in the 2010 Taman inquiry deliberately acted to get him fired from his job with the Ste. Anne police force.
Woychuk, who he says now works as a part-time letter carrier and contractor in Winnipeg, is seeking unspecified general, special and punitive damages.
Statements of defence have not been filed. The allegations have not been proven in court.
An RCMP D Division spokeswoman, Sgt. Line Karpish, said late Tuesday she had no information on the lawsuit.
“If we are under litigation we can’t comment anyway,” said Karpish, in an email.
Woychuk was a constable with the East St. Paul police force in 2008, when he responded to the crash that killed Crystal Taman.
Woychuk drove Harvey-Zenk to the East St. Paul police station after the crash.
At the inquiry, Woychuk testified that former East St. Paul police chief Harry Bakema told him to alter his notes, removing any reference that he believed Harvey-Zenk had been drinking before the crash and that a paramedic had told him he also suspected Harvey-Zenk had been drinking.
In the statement of claim, Woychuk said that in January 2010, while working for the Ste. Anne police force, he was confronted by a senior RCMP officer from Vancouver who claimed he was leading the inquiry investigation. Woychuk alleges this RCMP officer pressured him into signing an immunity agreement, which guaranteed he would not face any charges in exchange for his testimony at the inquiry.
Woychuk said he was assured by the Ste. Anne police chief that his job would not be jeopardized by his testimony at the inquiry.
However, Woychuk said in June 2010, he was arrested by the team of Vancouver-based RCMP officers, alleging they told him he was facing charges of perjury, public mischief and breach of trust.
Woychuk alleges that several RCMP officers interviewed him during his 10 hours in custody and told him his immunity agreement had been revoked and that he’d never work as a police officer again.
Woychuk said he was released from custody without being charged but was fired from the Ste. Anne police department the following day.
Woychuk alleges the RCMP team falsely arrested him and imprisoned him.
He also alleges the actions of the RCMP officers resulted in him losing his job with the Ste. Anne force and damaged his reputation, costing him lost income.
» Winnipeg Free Press
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition June 13, 2012