const. Nicole Chan feared she would never work at VPD again after hospital stay: Sergeant
const. Nicole Chan believed she would never return to work with the Vancouver Police Department because human resources officers attended the hospital when she was apprehended under the Mental Health Act, a man said Monday. police sergeant during a coroner’s inquest.
sergeant. Corey Bech, who described himself as a friend and mentor to Chan, said he spoke to him the day before he died by suicide.
She was worried about workplace rumors, he told the coroner’s jury.
“It got so bad that she couldn’t even, she didn’t want to be with members in uniform, or members at all towards the end of her life,” he said.
“She had no contact with anyone from the VPD, other than me, in the end.”
He said Chan still remains a subject of the department’s “rumour mill.”
“That part of our work culture is not healthy, but it’s very difficult to deal with,” he said.
Chan was also angry that Sgt. David Van Patten had been able to keep his job, Bech said.
The inquest heard that Chan accused Van Patten of extorting her into pursuing a sexual relationship.
“If he was there, she was just in an untenable position for her to try and get back into the force with him in the organization,” Bech said.
He said he didn’t know how serious her situation was when he spoke to her the day before she died.
“I wish someone had told me how she was (and) what happened that night. If I had known more details, I probably wouldn’t have ended up with a phone call,” he said, referring to his arrest and hospitalization under the Mental Health Act.
Chan passed away on January 27, 2019.
Adam Irish, a BC Ambulance Services paramedic who attended Chan’s apartment that morning, described how he and his partner found her unresponsive with no possibility of resuscitation.
Other first responders, including VPD officers, who attended Chan’s condo told the inquest the scene looked like a well-planned suicide.
Chan had dropped off several items, including a suicide note, his passport, a BC driver’s license, his police ID card, a wallet and a notebook.
The note asked that his dog Ollie be given to his sister, Jennifer.
“I love her, I love you, Jenn. I’m so sorry. There’s nothing anyone could have done,” Chan wrote.
The notebook, which was left on his kitchen counter next to his other personal items, included pages that read, “How can I get back. No boss would want to work with me” and “I don’t want you to take me to court and hold me in over my head for the next few years. I can’t do this anymore.
Chan, who was on stress leave at the time, died three weeks after writing an impact statement on Van Patten.
The letter, addressed to New Westminster police investigating Chan’s allegations against Van Patten, said she had been sexually assaulted by him in his apartment.
She detailed her anguish that Van Patten, who was a senior officer, had “taken advantage” of her in a “power imbalance” while she was severely depressed.
Chan said she already suffered from mental health issues, but Van Patten’s sexual assault worsened her condition, stalled her career and affected her ability to maintain relationships.
His sister told the inquest last week that Van Patten is “blackmailing” Chan into pursuing a sexual relationship.
A civil lawsuit filed on behalf of his family last year says that around January 2016, Chan approached Van Patten to “help him find” a position on the department’s emergency response team and he began to extort it in July of the same year.
The lawsuit was filed against the BC government, the City of Vancouver, the Vancouver Police Board, the police department, its union and four officers. However, a notice of discontinuance was filed in the case in September regarding one of the officers.
None of the allegations have been proven in court.
The statement said the British Columbia Police Complaints Commissioner has asked the New Westminster Police Service to investigate the allegations and has recommended charges against Van Patten.
Transportation Police Chief Dave Jones, who was formerly with the New Westminster Police Service, told the inquest on Monday that the Crown Prosecution Service had determined that he would not pursue charges of sexual assault on Van Patten.
Jones, who led the police law investigation, said he found four allegations of dishonorable conduct by Van Patten to be true.
He said his investigation ended in December 2018, but because Van Patten denied the allegations, a hearing was set for March 2019.
He said he didn’t know what Chan knew when she died, but that Van Patten was eventually discharged from the force about a year after her death.
Bech told the inquest on Monday he believes the biggest systemic change the department could make would be mandatory mental health checks for all first responders.
He said the department had mechanisms such as increased peer support in place since Chan’s death, but having medical professionals verify and document the mental state of officers “would be good for the department.” “.
The inquest is due to wrap up on Tuesday and while the five-member jury cannot assign blame, they can make recommendations to prevent deaths in similar circumstances.
—Brieanna Charlebois, The Canadian Press