Domestic Violence Victim Loses Suit Against RCMP

Wednesday, June 6, 2001

POLICE ACCOUNTABILITY - No link between breach of duty and shootout

Heather Sokoloff,National Post, June 6, 2001 

A British Columbia woman who sued the RCMP and the province for allegedly failing to protect her from a shooting rampage by her former husband has had her case dismissed by B.C. Supreme Court. The court ruled yesterday that while the RCMP investigation was insufficient, there was no link between that breach and the shootout in 1996 that killed Bonnie Mooney's best friend and wounded her daughter. 

"I'm in shock, total shock, total disbelief," Ms. Mooney said yesterday of the court decision, which was being closely watched by lawyers and women’s groups across Canada. 

"This is just like getting the news the night my friend had been murdered all over again." 

On March 11, 1996, Ms. Mooney ran into a Prince George RCMP detachment seeking help after Roland Kruska, her former common-law husband, chased her through the streets in his car. There she told Constable Craig Andrichuk about the couples history of domestic violence and her fear of Mr. Kruska. 

Const. Andrichuk said police action was warranted, but the matter went no further. 

Several weeks later, armed with a sawed-off shotgun, Mr. Kruska broke into Mr. Mooney's home and shot her friend, Hazel White, and Ms. Mooney's daughter, Michelle, who was 12 years old at the time. He then set the house on fire and shot himself to death. Ms. Mooney escaped through a window. She believes Mr. Kruska wanted to harm only her. Michelle also managed to escape along with Ms. Mooney's younger daughter, Kristy.

There was no clear connection between Constable Andrichuk's failure to act March 11, 1996, and Roland Kruska's fateful trip ... seven weeks later," the court said. "The officer's inaction did not materially increase the risk of harm to the extent that he must bear responsibility for Mr. Kruska's acts"

An internal RCMP investigation also found Const. Andrichuk did not conduct a thorough investigation, but he has remained on full duty in Prince George since the incident.

The case attracted interest across the country because of the issue of police accountability in cases of domestic violence.

"No policeman should feel comfortable with this decision," said Lee Lakeman, spokesperson for the Canadian Association of Sexual Assault Centres, adding the organization is encouraging other women who feel police have neglected their pleas to file similar lawsuits.

"We've done all the pleading and training and cajoling we can do. Now we've got to make it count."

Ms. Mooney said she would like to appeal the decision but fears it maybe too expensive.

"There are significant legal issues relating to the connection with the police's breach of duty, and the ensuing harm that arises, which deserve to be explored in detail by other courts," Henry Wood, Ms. Mooney's lawyer, said.