The defendants named in a civil lawsuit have issued a distinctly different account of a strip search of a man serving a life sentence for the murder of a rival just outside Prince George.
Darren Cayley Daniel Sundman is seeking damages from Correctional Services Canada, the Attorney General of Canada, the warden at Kent Institution and three unnamed people, alleging in a notice of claim filed in March that a guard probed his anal cavity and left him with abrasions and bruises and psychological trauma.
Sundman claims the search occurred when, while in the process of being transferred to another prison, he was taken into a washroom and while fully nude, dropped a small cellphone, a USB cable and a charging block from his buttocks.
Sundman was immediately thrown to the ground and handcuffed, then one of the guards inserted two fingers into his anus to "dig around" the cavity, the claim says. No more objects were recovered.
But in a response filed May 19, the defendants deny the allegation.
Instead, they say that in the course of the search, a guard found a roughly six-inch length of sharpened metal hidden inside one of Sundman's shoes and that a small cellphone "approximately the size of a thumb" fell on the floor when he removed his underwear. The USB cable and the charger were also observed and Sundman was instructed to leave the items on the floor.
At that point, Sundman became "non-compliant" and the two attending guards had to physically restrain him and other guards were called in to help. Once Sundman was restrained, the cable and charger were retrieved but not the cellphone.
Upon arrival at the new prison - Sundman was being transferred from Kent Institution in Agassiz, B.C. to Donnaconna Institution in Quebec - he was placed in a cell for inmates suspected of having ingested or hidden contraband in a body cavity.
Subsequent checks with a metal detector confirmed the presence of an object inside him. Roughly a day later, Sundman "passed the cellphone during a bowel movement" and it was recovered by guards.
Both parties agree that Sundman was being subject to an involuntary transfer. He was served notice in Dec. 3, 2020 and the transfer took place on Feb. 19, 2021. In the process, the emergency response team at Kent had to be deployed because Sundman had barricaded himself in a cell.
Sundman eventually calmed down and was taken to admissions and discharge for the search. The defendants deny that it was carried out in a "washroom with no door" and instead say he was taken to a "designated strip search area" blocked off by a curtain.
Originally found guilty of second-degree murder in January 2015 for the shooting of Jordan Taylor McLeod, the conviction for Sundman was upgraded to first-degree murder upon appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada and he is now serving a sentence of 25 years to life.
None of the allegations have been tested in court.