CBC Investigates

RCMP settles with permanently brain injured man, Robert Wright

Robert Wright, the man at the centre of a controversial 2012 jail cell take down that left him with permanent brain damage, has received an RCMP settlement.

'I don't feel there is any justice - justice would be [the officer] losing his job.'

Robert Wright in his hospital bed at the Royal Columbian Hospital in New Westminster, B.C. April 2012. (submitted by Heather Prisk)

A Terrace, B.C., First Nations man, suing the RCMP for a violent jail cell take down in 2012 that left him with permanent brain damage, has reached an undisclosed out-of-court settlement with the force.

Robert Wright, 51, now requires full-time care from his wife, Heather Prisk.

Under the terms of the settlement, Prisk is unable to disclose the monetary settlement but hopes to use it to move away from Terrace and start a new life with her husband in the Okanagan.

Their lawyer, J. Scott Stanley, indicates Wright will now be able to afford the assistance he requires.

"This settlement will insure that Robert has the care and support he needs while he and his wife bravely move forward with their lives  This is something that should never have happened.  It is something that should never happen again," said Stanley.

Wright was left with devastating personality changes by the injuries.

"No amount of money is ever going to make that better," an emotional Prisk told the CBC.

"I don't feel there is any justice. Money doesn't buy justice. I'm angry. This is my life. This is my husband."

RCMP Cst. Brian Heideman is the officer accused of throwing Robert Wright to the ground. (submitted by Heather Prisk)

Prisk said her husband was given a "life sentence" with his brain injury, and she's angry the RCMP officer remains on the job — now stationed in Vernon.

RCMP Const. Brian Heideman has faced other allegations of using excessive force in the arrest of two other First Nations men.

A small trail of blood can be seen in this image from a jail cell video taken after a police officer takes Robert Wright to the ground shortly after entering the cell. (submitted by Heather Prisk)

Documents filed in a civil suit against Const. Brian Heideman allege the incidents took place in April and May 2012 — weeks after his confrontation with Robert Wright, who is also aboriginal.

None of the three cases resulted in criminal charges against Heideman.

Lawyer Scott Stanley says he cannot divulge the terms of the settlement. (CBC)

Court documents also revealed that Heideman admitted he lost a bag of cocaine, a crucial part of a separate drug investigation, and used steroids on the job.

"Most Canadians, if they found out a member of the RCMP had lost a bag of cocaine, had been using steroids illegally, and had used excessive force on three First Nations persons — and those allegations were all true, and I don't know if they are — probably wouldn't want that person remaining as a member of the RCMP," Wright's lawyer, J. Scott Stanley told CBC in December 2015.

Robert Wright and Heather Prisk in happier times on the day of their engagement a year before the incident in the Terrace RCMP lock-up. (submitted by Heather Prisk)

About the Author

Eric Rankin

Investigative journalist

Eric Rankin is an award-winning CBC reporter. His honours include the 2018 Canadian Screen Award for Best Local Reportage, the 2017 and 2015 RTDNA awards for Best In-depth/Investigative Reporting, and the 2009 Jack Webster award for Best News Reporting.

With files from Yvette Brend