British Columbia·CBC Investigates

Mountie sues RCMP for harassment, intimidation, abuse of authority

The first RCMP officer on the scene of an infamous B.C. murder is now suing the force for harassment, intimidation and abuse of authority — after his superiors accused him of drinking the night the victim was found.

RCMP constable claims he was unjustly suspected of drinking the night he found dying murder victim

Const. Milan Ilic is suing the RCMP over its handling of an internal investigation into his behavior (Facebook)

The first RCMP officer on the scene of an infamous B.C. murder is now suing the force for harassment, intimidation and abuse of authority — after his superiors accused him of drinking the night the victim was found.

On October 31, 2011, Constable Milan Ilic discovered 18-year-old Taylor Van Diest of Armstrong, B.C., lying face down in a ditch alongside railway tracks.

In a lawsuit filed in the Kamloops registry of the B.C. Supreme Court, Const. Ilic now alleges the gruesome murder was just the start of a personal nightmare at the hands of his own superiors — who accused him of having a drinking problem and of throwing away a liquor bottle at the crime scene.

Ilic says the scene he stumbled upon was so disturbing, he now suffers from post traumatic stress disorder. News reports at the time described how Van Diest was gasping for air but didn't respond when Ilic squeezed her leg.

Matthew Foerster, now 28, was found guilty of first-degree murder of Armstrong, B.C.'s Taylor Van Diest, who was 18 when she died in 2011. (Facebook)

Ilic's notice of civil claim recounts how "he took off his (patrol) jacket and placed it over the victim, in an effort to keep her warm", as he awaited paramedics.

Ilic helped load Van Diest onto a stretcher and accompanied her by ambulance to Vernon Jubilee hospital. 

The young woman — dressed as a zombie for Halloween — was barely clinging to life after a vicious sexually–motivated attack. She died the next day from traumatic head injuries.

As the investigation into her murder progressed, the lawsuit states, "a square empty liquor bottle (was) found in the bushes 25 metres from the body two days into the investigation …"

Two-and-a-half years later, on March 24, 2014 , Ilic was scheduled to be one of the first witnesses in the trial of Matthew Foerster, then 27, who went on to be convicted of Van Diest's murder. The conviction is now under appeal.

Asked if he had thrown a bottle

Constable Ilic's lawsuit states, "Immediately before (giving) testimony he was approached by defence counsel and asked whether he had thrown a bottle out of his pocket at the scene," something he immediately denied.

But the civil action notes "a witness testified in the trial that she saw a police officer at the scene discard a bottle."

Const. Milan Ilic maintains he was falsely accused of drinking on the job by his RCMP bosses (Facebook)

Ilic addressed the issue on the stand.

"In his testimony, the plaintiff denied having a bottle of liquor or discarding a bottle of liquor at the scene on the night of the murder," states the lawsuit.

Ilic later told RCMP investigators who interrogated him that the only thing he had thrown away at the scene was a box of pens, as he emptied his jacket before placing it on Van Diest.

But the constable claims the accusations by his superiors escalated.

According to the documents, in April 2014 Ilic was told an internal code of conduct investigation had been ordered into his actions at the scene, as well as his testimony in court.

It was alleged he had conducted himself "in a disgraceful manner … by providing false, misleading or inaccurate evidence under oath" at the trial — and to RCMP investigators.

Ilic's lawsuit says the alleged offences were "considered the most serious … described as 'threshold offences' as they deal with issues of honesty and integrity."

Suspended from the RCMP

The Mountie claims he was then subjected to months of suspicion and investigation — officially suspended from the force on August 21, 2014 and ordered to surrender his RCMP identification card, badge and all RCMP-issued firearms.

The RCMP even went to the extent of testing the liquor bottle for Ilic's DNA, according to the civil action — sending it to the force's lab for analysis — and when that test concluded there was insufficient DNA for a match, sent it to a private lab, which came to the same conclusion.

Still, the commanding officer of "E" division — the RCMP's B.C. headquarters — requested and got a 120-day extension of the one year limitation on code of conduct investigations.

When that period expired, the CO requested a second extension on June 30, 2015.

According to the lawsuit, the RCMP's Conduct Authority Representative Directorate (CARD) at national headquarters in Ottawa, refused another extension — concluding "all of the evidence … would not support a finding on a balance of probabilities that Constable Ilic had lied to the courts or investigators."

One month later, on July 23, 2015, Ilic was finally informed his suspension from the force had been lifted — but he immediately went on sick leave on the recommendation of his treating psychologist.

He remains off duty, and also remains a constable with the force.

"Career compromised"

Ilic now claims "The effects of these unresolved and serious allegations … have compromised him not only within the force, but also with the public" and that that the allegations will "follow him throughout any career he may have in the RCMP".

His lawsuit is seeking unspecified damages for alleged RCMP conduct that was "harassing, intimidating and/or an abuse of authority".

Ilic also claims that "a direct and foreseeable consequence of the negligent conduct of members of the RCMP ... "would cause his career with the RCMP to "be compromised and that his health would further deteriorate."

Reached by the CBC, the RCMP issued this reaction to the lawsuit:

"We understand that a notice of civil claim has been filed. We will review the claim and the RCMP's official response will be filed in our statement of defense and it is likely any other comments will be reserved for the courtroom."

None of the allegations has been proven in court.


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.