VANCOUVER — A British Columbia man who is suing the RCMP claims he walked naked out of his shower to find a female uniformed Mountie standing in his bedroom.
Kirk Forbes said the encounter in his Coquitlam home in June 2022 left him "shocked, confused and embarrassed."
"I felt violated in my own home," he said in an interview Wednesday. "That's my safe place. It should always be that way."
Mounties said in a news release issued Tuesday that the officers entered the home when they found that it appeared "insecure."
In a notice of civil claim filed in July, Forbes said it was only after he asked the woman why she was in his home that she identified herself as an RCMP officer, then asked him his name and said she was there to serve him a traffic ticket.
Forbes was told the violation — not stopping for a school bus — happened in Pemberton, but he said in the claim he was unaware of any traffic violation.
"I was confused and at that point pretty much in a state of shock," he said. "This is all (because of) a six-month-old alleged traffic violation that I find myself in the situation, and I do find it just unreasonable, unprofessional and unwarranted."
The lawsuit said that after he got dressed, he went to his living room where he found a male officer searching his home.
He was told the officers had knocked on his door and "it had flung open" so they went in, the claim said. The female officer then "joked mockingly that perhaps they should investigate whether a break-in had occurred."
Forbes said he was unsatisfied with that explanation and with the officer's levity, which made him feel unsafe. He became "increasingly upset, angry and shocked," the claim said.
It said the Mounties served him the violation ticket and left the home.
In the lawsuit, Forbes alleged the RCMP officers "abused their authority and power" by walking into his home without his permission or a warrant to serve the ticket.
He said the incident has left lasting impacts.
"It doesn't add up for me," Forbes said.
"I can't even talk about it without just blood pressure spiking," he said, noting that if he sees a police car on the street he becomes anxious.
The Coquitlam Mounties say in the news release they are aware of the claim and that officers entered "what appeared to be an insecure premise" to serve a traffic violation ticket.
RCMP spokeswoman Cpl. Alexa Hodgins said in an interview that because there is litigation pending, there are limitations on what she can disclose. But she said there are circumstances in which an officer can enter someone's property.
"There's case law that if there's an insecure premise that police have a duty to make sure that nobody's injured inside, and the only way you can do that is to enter," she said.
Hodgins said examples include "a window being smashed, or a door opening or maybe the doors already open — those types of things."
The RCMP news release says the resident raised concerns about the officers' presence in his home, but police believed they had "dealt with those concerns informally" before the man initiated a formal public complaint.
Forbes said he contacted the Coquitlam detachment and made an informal complaint about the situation the morning it happened. He said he was told they would investigate and report back to him.
After three weeks without an update, he said he went to the detachment, where a receptionist allegedly referred to him as "the shower guy."
It was apparent that the incident had been discussed among other members and employees of the Coquitlam RCMP detachment, the lawsuit said, which caused Forbes "further anxiety, embarrassment and upset."
"It was pretty disturbing to find out that for some reason this incident has become the talk of the police station, and that was not a pleasant feeling for sure," Forbes said in the interview.
This is what led him to make a formal complaint to the Civilian Complaints Commission for the RCMP on May 12, 2023, he said.
"It's a slow erosion of personal freedoms," he said of the incident. "It's really bothered me to the point where I just decided I had to file a suit."
The RCMP statement says the incident is now under investigation, which will include a review of documentation, radio transmissions, and the informal process.
Forbes said he hopes those records will be made public.
"I do really want people to understand that this is happening," he said. "Hopefully, we see change and we see improvement. That's ultimately all we need to see."
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 13, 2023.
Brieanna Charlebois, The Canadian Press