A Coquitlam man claims he was unlawfully detained and then defamed in the media after a run-in with a conservation officer who was pursuing and later shot and killed three bears.
Ryan Faccin, 42, filed the B.C. Supreme Court lawsuit against Todd Hunter, who pursued a female bear and two cubs through a neighbourhood before killing them on July 30, 2019.
He says that from his property he observed several armed individuals dressed in black running between houses across the street who turned out to be conservation officers.
Faccin says he brought his children, who were playing in the front yard, into his house and then went outside and starting filming using his phone, following Hunter at a distance of between 15 and 20 feet.
Hunter loudly instructed him to stop filming and, seemingly under the impression that Faccin was carrying a can of bear spray, told him that he considered the bear spray to be a weapon, said Faccin.
The plaintiff said he was not carrying a can of bear spray at the time but had been doing so earlier when he left the home.
Faccin says he returned home but Hunter communicated his description to RCMP, claiming that he’d been obstructing him during the course of his duties, a claim that he denies.
Hunter then went into an area of bush and killed the bears, says the lawsuit.
RCMP later arrived at the scene and arrested Faccin, placing him into handcuffs with his children looking on, he says.
“The RCMP officers lacked objectively reasonable grounds for arresting Faccin,” says the suit. “The RCMP officers relied on Hunter’s representations and failed to make additional inquiries — of Hunter and of the bystanders who were present, for example — as to Faccin’s alleged conduct.”
During the arrest, Faccin’s phone, which had video of Hunter’s pursuit of the bears, was improperly seized, Faccin claims.
The Mounties transferred custody of Faccin to Hunter, who rearrested him and subsequently released him on a promise to appear on two offences — obstructing an officer under the Wildlife Act, and obstructing an officer under the Criminal Code.
Faccin’s phone was also turned over to the authorities but he succeeded in getting the device back after launching a Charter challenge in court.
No charges were approved against Faccin, who is also claiming that after the incident, he was defamed in statements to the media made by Hunter and an inspector with the conservation service.
Faccin says he has suffered humiliation and discomfort arising from the incident and other problems including emotional distress, flashbacks, nightmares and difficulty sleeping.
He is seeking general, aggravated and punitive damages.
Faccin was one of three residents arrested on the day of the shooting. Faccin’s lawyer, Arden Beddoes, earlier filed a lawsuit making similar allegations on behalf of Patrick Swonnell, one of the other residents who was arrested.
No responses have been filed to the lawsuits, which contain allegations that have not been tested in court. The Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General, named as a defendant, could not be reached.
The Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy, which is responsible for the conservation officer service, refused to comment, saying the matter is before the courts.
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