The sign at the head of the Taylor Van Diest Memorial Trail in Armstrong. (Vernon Morning Star)

The sign at the head of the Taylor Van Diest Memorial Trail in Armstrong. (Vernon Morning Star)

Cop sues force on 10th anniversary of Armstrong teen’s murder

First on scene at Taylor Van Diest homicide to take on RCMP in civil suit this month

The officer who was first to respond to what would become a murder scene on Halloween night in Armstrong 10 years ago is returning to court to take on the RCMP in a civil lawsuit first filed in 2016.

Then Const. Milan Ilic, who was based out of the Falkland RCMP detachment, was first on scene near the train tracks on Rosedale Avenue and placed his jacket over 18-year-old Taylor Van Diest in an effort to keep her warm. She died of her injuries in hospital Nov. 1.

READ MORE: Foerster gets life with no parole for 17 years in Van Diest murder

But when an empty liquor bottle was later found in the bushes approximately 25 metres from where Van Diest was found, questions were raised about whether or not the officer tossed it.

Ilic — who was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder shortly after testifying on March 24, 2014, in his first and only homicide investigation — said he had no involvement with the discarded liquor bottle despite a single witness testimony stating otherwise.

Rather, he told the defence lawyer he had tossed a box of pens he took from the Armstrong detachment.

The witness later stated she thought it was a water bottle, but it could have been a box of pens, the notice of claim reads.

He was later interviewed by police, “which took on the character of an interrogation,” and was served notice of a code of conduct investigation on April 28, 2014.

It was alleged he conducted himself in a “disgraceful manner” during the trial and during a meeting with the officers.

The RCMP suspended Ilic on Aug. 25, 2014.

“The effects of these unresolved and serious allegations, which relate to issues of honesty and integrity have compromised him not only within the force but also with the public,” the notice of claim reads.

When the bottle was eventually tested, no DNA profile was found.

Ilic’s suspension was lifted in July 2014, but he’s been on sick leave since that time.

“The fact that the process is unresolved has left him without any avenue to prove his innocence, leaving a further permanent stain on any further potential career in the RCMP.”

Ilic is seeking general damages, special damages, past loss of income, future loss of income, diminished loss of earning capacity, loss of benefits and pension and costs.

The scheduled trial date is Oct. 12 and is expected to last 19 days.

READ MORE: RCMP officer sues police force

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