Slain B.C. woman's mother files lawsuit

An RCMP officer — who failed to thoroughly investigate a 911 call about gunshots — denied a woman her consitutional right to life, a B.C. mother alleges.
Lisa Dudley, in a photo held be her mother, died four days after she was shot in 2008. (CBC)
A B.C. mother is suing the provincial and federal governments, alleging her daughter's charter right to life was violated when the RCMP failed to investigate the gunfire that killed her. 

Lisa Dudley died in September 2008 after being shot in her home in Mission, along with her companion, Guthrie McKay.

Although a neighbour called 911, the RCMP officer who went to the scene never got out of his car and did not speak to the neighbour who had notified police.

It was later revealed that the officer, Const. Mike White, also dismissively laughed off the 911 call in a conversation with his dispatcher. 

Dudley, 37, was found alive days later, but died en route to hospital. McKay was found dead in the home.

The lawsuit filed Thursday in B.C. Supreme Court alleges that, had the RCMP done its job, Dudley would be alive today, said Monique Pongracic-Speier,  the lawyer for Dudley’s mother, Rosemary Surakka.

"The essence of the lawsuit is that the RCMP response was so inadequate that it amounted to a deprivation of her right to life, because when she was found she was alive and she subsequently died," Pongracic-Speier said.

Pongracic-Speier said the situation might be different if Dudley had died right after she’d been shot, but that’s not what happened.

"This is a woman who was alive for four days, stuck to her chair by dried blood, and who expired while paramedics were attending to her," the lawyer said.

Suits alleging police violations of charter rights are not uncommon, but they usually revolve around arrests, searches or death in custody.

Ruling provides precedent

Last year, the Supreme Court of Canada affirmed that financial damages can be awarded for constitutional breaches.

Because the suit alleges a constitutional violation, the officers involved aren't named as defendants, but referred to as agents of the state.

Surakka is suing the Attorney General of Canada, B.C.'s Solicitor General and the District of Mission, which technically employs the RCMP.

Const. White was reprimanded and docked a day’s pay after an RCMP disciplinary hearing in connection with his actions the night of the shooting. He has since been promoted to the rank of corporal.

With files from the CBC's Curt Petrovich