Lawsuits bring more questions about Osoyoos RCMP

couple claim they “fled” Osoyoos because of improper conduct of RCMP and actions of residents that have lead them to file a civil lawsuit.

A couple claim they “fled” Osoyoos because of the improper conduct of RCMP and actions of residents that have lead them to file a civil lawsuit.

“It involves conspiracy, the stalking of a minor, an incident of phone tapping,” said Sharon Laybourne. “We desperately fled that town and had to sell our house at a bargain basement price. We fled Osoyoos and I think that is what happened to some others.”

Sharon and her husband, Roy, said they felt compelled to come forward after seeing stories in the Penticton Western News about other Osoyoos residents alleging unfair treatment from RCMP in the area.

“A lawyer we talked to said this is a mushroom cloud in the area,” said Sharon.

In recent weeks, RCMP have been under scrutiny from members of the public. Former Osoyoos resident Stephen Condon said he also left Osoyoos because of what he alleges was unjust treatment from RCMP after he was fingered in a car theft, that belonged to Const. Amit Goyal. That officer is currently suspended with pay.

In court, lawyer Don Skogstad said he will be calling on evidence from Fiona Munro to assist in a case against his client Chester Bryant who claims his arresting officer in Osoyoos used unnecessary force.

Skogstad told the court in October that Munro would be called based on “similar fact” evidence in that she claims to also have received injuries after receiving rough treatment from the same RCMP officer in Osoyoos.

Married RCMP officers, Jason and Sasha MacLean, filed a civil lawsuit in September 2010 against the attorney general of Canada, minister of public safety and officers Kurt Lozinski, Kevin Schur and Michael Field, who all were in supervisory positions. They claim those officers “adopted a manner of dealing with the plaintiffs which was harassing and intended to be so, and/or was intimidating.”

The MacLeans claim the defendants used intimidation to influence them to work when Sasha was ill while pregnant and later when both of the MacLean’s were injured. In a meeting with one of the supervisors, Sasha alleges she was told the couple were no longer welcome at the detachment and they should make efforts to leave.

The MacLeans allege they were directed by supervisors to do things contrary to policies when coming back to work which they allege lead to confrontations with the defendants and unfounded investigations upon them that now affect their career paths.

The defendants’ response to civil claim states they were acting on their duties and that Jason was insubordinate and acted in an aggressive manner regarding a meeting with Sasha that resulted in his superior officer asking for the MacLeans to relinquish their firearms and detachment keys. Their statement claims a 2008 complaint by the plaintiffs on workplace policy did not support a finding of harassment by RCMP E division.

The Laybournes filed an 80-page document in Supreme Court in January of 2012 against the attorney general of B.C., minister of public safety and solicitor general, a number of Osoyoos RCMP officers including Lozinski, the Town of Osoyoos, Good Shepherd Christian School, David Stuart Hillson and others. Their lawyer, Diego Solimano, said they are still in the document discovery phase in the proceedings.

The Laybournes believe their alleged mist-treatment by RCMP stems from complaints they made to the Town of Osoyoos against Good Shepherd School breaking bylaws. The couple lived across the street from the school and when the town did nothing about it they raised their concerns with the school who then turned around and published the complaints in a newsletter circulated to parents and students.

The Laybournes claim patrons of the school then terrorized them by creating blockades in front of their driveway, shouting religious slurs towards them and caused property damage. Sharon said it escalated in particular with one maintenance worker at the school, David Hillson, who they claim videotaped their home for hours, made rude gestures, stalked them around town and made false accusations to RCMP about them.

On the advice of the RCMP, Sharon said they documented the incidents using surveillance cameras at their home and began reporting them to Mounties. She claims that on Jan. 20, 2010 she was called by Cpl. Ken Harrington to attend the detachment. The couple assumed it was to provide more information about Hillson.

Instead, they were arrested, charged with criminal harassment and let go on a promise to appear that was never signed by any officer.

The Laybournes claim RCMP issued a press release about the couple facing criminal harassment charges when they did not, and it also contained a number of factual errors and misleading statements.

Sharon said she was arrested for dangerous driving and put into a cell for over seven hours where she was belittled and treated unfair by RCMP. She was released after charged with driving with undue care and attention.

The Laybournes say harassment by RCMP and Hillson become so grievous that they felt “imprisoned in Osoyoos.” No longer feeling safe in their community, they fled.

David Hillson who was contacted by the Penticton Western News, claimed no knowledge of the civil lawsuit, then seconds later said he wished to provide no comment.