Calgary

Police officer laid false charge to help friend in custody battle, lawsuit alleges

Five Calgary police officers and a civilian police employee are being sued for $600,000, accused of trying to derail a father's custody application by laying a criminal charge in what the plaintiff calls a "corrupt and biased investigation."

None of Jacob Hardy's allegations about Calgary police officers and his ex-wife have been proven in court

Const. Jason Schneider, left, is accused of laying a baseless charge against Jacob Hardy, the ex-husband of his close friend Candace Rumancik who is now married to Const. Joel Rumancik, both pictured on the right.

Five Calgary police officers and a civilian police employee are being sued for $600,000, accused of trying to derail a father's custody application by laying a criminal charge in what the plaintiff calls a "corrupt and biased investigation."

Const. Jason Schneider is accused of laying a baseless charge against Jacob Hardy while he was locked in a bitter custody dispute with his ex-wife, Candace Rumancik.

Rumancik is a civilian employee of the Calgary Police Service and now married to Const. Joel Rumancik, both close friends of Schneider.

"Const. Schneider proceeded to conduct a corrupt and biased investigation of the false perjury allegation," says a statement of claim filed on Hardy's behalf.

"Const. Schneider's investigation was designed to create the appearance of objective grounds, where none existed, for the pre-determined decision to arrest and charge Mr. Hardy with perjury contrary to section 132 of the Criminal Code."

Bitter custody dispute

Hardy is suing the officers and his ex-wife, according to a statement of claim filed at the Calgary Courts Centre.

Months after the pair split, Candace began dating and eventually married Rumancik — another of the defendants. 

Soon after their divorce, Candace Rumancik and Hardy found themselves in the middle of a bitter custody battle over their daughter.

Though Hardy says he desperately wanted a trial as he was applying to have 50-per-cent custody of his daughter, the document alleges that Candace wanted to keep the status quo and did everything she could to prevent the matter from moving forward.

That included going to Schneider in September 2015 to report that Hardy had committed perjury.

Investigator, complainant's daughters play together

"With full knowledge and in direct violation of CPS policy and procedure ... Mrs. Rumancik attended [CPS] and made her false accusation to her friend Const. Schneider," reads the statement of claim.

Schneider assigned himself as the lead investigator and ended up charging Hardy with perjury.

Meanwhile, the Rumancik and Schneider families continued to socialize. For example, just two days after she went to police, Candace hosted the Schneider's daughter at a birthday party, according to a Facebook post.

Schneider called Hardy in January 2016 and arranged for him to be arrested at the district office where Candace Rumancik works. 

Charge withdrawn by Crown

Although he could have been released by signing an undertaking, Hardy was taken to the arrest processing unit where he was held for more than eight hours.

During the arrest, Schneider intentionally pretended not to know how to pronounce Rumancik's name so that Hardy wouldn't know the arresting officer personally knew his ex-wife, Hardy's statement of claim alleges.

After several court appearances, the assigned prosecutor withdrew the charge after making inquiries about a potential conflict of interest and corruption.

"Mr. Hardy's trust and confidence in the justice system has been shaken by his experiences," said his lawyer, Michael Bates. 

"Mr. Hardy intends to bring his evidence forward and argue that he has been wronged by some of the very people sworn to fight such conduct."

Hardy seeking $600,000 and an apology

The officers are also accused of inappropriately using CPS databases to get information on Hardy.

Three other officers, including the police chief, are named in the statement of claim but only because they were involved in signing off on Schneider's investigation.

In the chief's case, his role as leader of the organization is the reason he is named.

According to the claim, Hardy suffered PTSD, harm to his personal and professional reputation and legal expenses stemming from the ordeal.

Hardy is seeking $600,000, a public apology, retraining for the officers, and for CPS to implement updated conflict of interest policies.

None of the allegations have been proven in court. None of the defendants have responded yet with a statement of defence.

Schneider in trouble in 2007

In 2007, Schneider was suspended from CPS while he and another officer were the subjects of a criminal investigation.

Though no charge was laid, Schneider was caught on video dragging and punching a handcuffed man in the face during an arrest.

Drug charges were later dropped against the suspect.

After the Crown decided not to lay charges, Schneider was to face an internal review though the outcome was unclear. 

Calgary police say they are unable to confirm the officers are the subject of an internal investigation.

"We are unable to comment as these matters are currently before the courts," said CPS in an emailed statement. "Any member of the public who has a concern about the actions of an officer is able to contact the Professional Standards Section to file a formal complaint."

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