Category Archives: Killings by Cops

Killer Winnipeg Cop Justin Holz Could Face Additional Charges in Cody Severight Killing

On Friday, October 13, 2017, Winnipeg police Chief Danny Smyth told the city’s civilian police board that additional charges could be coming against Constable Justin Holz  for allegedly driving while impaired and fleeing the scene after hitting and killing pedestrian Cody Severight on October 10, 2017.  Smyth told the board that the results of a breathalyzer have not yet been analyzed and could bring about the further criminal charge of driving with a blood alcohol concentration over .08, which is 80 milligrams of alcohol for every 100 milliliters of blood. Constable Holz has been charged with impaired driving causing death and failure to remain at the scene.

Smyth also told the police board that further disciplinary action could be taken against Constable Holz once the investigation is complete. This could come even before the case goes to court. Holz is presently on administrative leave with pay but Smyth acknowledged that future disciplinary action could include dismissal of the officer.

This is not the first time a Winnipeg police officer has hit and killed someone while driving after an evening of drinking. In 2005 officer Derek Harvey-Zenk killed Crystal Taman after driving home from an all night drinking party with other officers. Several charges were initially brought against Harvey-Zenk, including impaired driving causing death, but all except dangerous driving causing death were stayed in a highly controversial plea bargain. Harvey-Zenk was eventually sentenced to two years less a day to be served at home.

Upon hearing about Constable Holz killing Cody Severight while driving after drinking, Robert Taman, Crystal Taman’s husband, expressed sadness and dismay. Taman, who became an advocate for police reform after the killing of his wife, offered a stark assessment of prospects for change among police:

 

“But it never changes. So if it doesn’t change [that means] they don’t find it important enough to change, so it’s going to continue until the organization, the association, somebody steps up and says, ‘That’s enough.’” (quoted in CBC News 2017)

 

So no one should hold their breath awaiting additional charges or further disciplinary actions from police. Despite what the chief says.

The Independent Investigation Unit, which examines all cases of harm to civilians serious incidents involving police officers in Manitoba, is investigating the killing. Holz has been released from custody on a promise to appear in court on November 22, 2017.

 

Further Reading

CBC News. 2017. “’Nothing Hidden’: Truth Must be Revealed in Cody Severight Hit-and-Run Death, Crystal Taman’s Husban Says.” October 12. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/robert-taman-cody-severight-fatal-crash-1.4351359

 

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Trial Begins for Killer Cop Simon Beaulieu in Guy Blouin Killing

Québec City police officer Simon Beaulieu killed 48-year-old Guy Blouin on September 3, 2014, striking the victim with his vehicle. Guy Blouin died in hospital from the fatal chest injuries inflicted by Beaulieu.

On October 13, 2017 the first witness testified in Beaulieu’s trial with the officer facing charges of criminal negligence causing death and dangerous driving causing death. Yves Brière, a crime scene reconstruction expert with the Sûreté du Québec, the provincial police force, testified that Beaulieu’s police cruiser hit and killed Guy Blouin while backing up on a one-way street at 44 kilometers an hour.

Brière showed Québec Court Judge René de la Sablonnière photos of the police cruiser, and explained that Blouin and the bicycle slid under the car, at the corner of Saint-François Est and du Parvis streets, in the Saint-Roch neighborhood. Blouin was run over with the right rear wheel of the cruiser. Brière testified that by the time the police car driven by Beaulieu had stopped, Blouin’s body was lying seven meters away. The police car’s bumper showed several rubber marks where the bicycle slid under the car, according to Brière.

Incredibly officer Beaulieu was promoted from constable to sergeant-detective after driving over and killing Guy Boulin. And people wonder why the public might be skeptical about prospects for police accountability within a system that depends on and rewards killer cops. Killer cop Beaulieu has been on desk duty pending his trial.


Winnipeg Killer Cop Justin Holz Charged in Killing Indigenous Youth Cody Severight

Winnipeg police Constable Justin Holz has been charged with impaired driving causing death and failure to remain at the scene after striking and killing pedestrian Cody Severight (23) with his vehicle on the evening of Tuesday, October 10, 2017. According to the Independent Investigations Unit, which is examining the killing, the 34-year-old Holz was located more than seven kilometers away fro the crash scene. Holz is an eight-year member of the Winnipeg police and was assigned as a criminal investigator. He has been placed on administrative leave but is still being paid. Winnipeg police traffic collision investigators assisted the IIU with a breathalyzer but it has not been revealed publicly whether Holz had a blood test to determine alcohol levels.

Holz was apparently working the day shift and would have gotten off work around 4:30 PM. He then allegedly went drinking until the crash at around 8:00 PM. Winnipeg Police Chief Danny Smyth tried to suggest it is not unusual for someone to go for drinks after work. The issue here through is that the cop then apparently decide to get in his vehicle and race home.

Witness Donnie Fizell has reported seeing a car speeding down the street before striking Severight. In his words: “He must have flew 15 feet in the air and his head hit the curb. [Constable Holz] must have been doing 80 [km/h] when he hit that poor boy” (quoted in Bernhardt 2017).

Cody Severight is from the Waywayseecappo First Nation, about 280 kilometres northwest of Winnipeg. He had recently started classes at the Winnipeg Adult Education Centre to obtain his Grade 12. He and his partner were expecting a baby soon (Bernhardt 2017). His grandmother Gloria Lebold describes him: “He was a sweet little guy, always joking around, just being a little fun person” (quoted in Bernhardt 2017).

Severight’s aunt, Nancy Gabriel, spoke honestly about the situation and noted the anti-Indigenous racism that has marked Winnipeg policing. In her view, police are supposed to be protecting people, “not killing people” (quoted in Bernhardt 2017). She continued: “As soon as he struck him he should have stopped straight away, not just keep on driving. You know how that looks, that looks like, ‘Oh that’s just another native.’ He was a good guy” (quoted in Bernhardt 2017).

Cody Severight will be buried next to his mother.

This is the third incident of police harm to civilians that the IIU has had to investigate this week alone in Winnipeg.

 

Further Reading

Bernhardt, Darren. 2017. “Winnipeg Police Officer Charged in Fatal Hit and Run Allegedly Impaired.” CBC News. October 11. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/pedestrian-cody-severight-dies-1.4349125


Killer Toronto Cop James Forcillo’s Appeal Begins: Seeks Bogus Suicide-By-Cop Excuse

On Monday, October 2, 2017, killer Toronto Police Constable James Forcillo began the appeal of his conviction in the shooting and killing of 18-year-old Sammy Yatim on July 27, 2013.  Forcillo’s lawyers asking the Ontario Court of Appeal to reconsider an interpretation of the killing and the timing of shots fired by Forcillo.

In 2016, a jury acquitted Forcillo of second-degree murder but convicted him of attempted murder after he shot and killed the distraught Yatim, who was isolated and alone on a Toronto streetcar. Forcillo shot the stricken youth after he had fallen down from the first shots, leading to the attempted murder charge and conviction (since Yatim was incapacitated when he was shot what other motive was there to keep shooing?). Forcillo was sentenced to six years in prison but remains free on bail until possibly 2018 pending the outcome of his appeal.

Forcillo’s lawyers disagree with instructions from Justice Edward that allowed the jury to consider the killer cop’s first three shots as a separate event from his next six shots. They occurred five-and-a-half seconds apart, the second volley coming after Yatim had already fallen from a fatal shot to the chest.

Even more disturbing Forcillo’s lawyers are also appealing the conviction on the grounds that they were denied the opportunity  to frame Yatim’s killing as an attempted suicide. This ploy seeks to make use of the dubious and despicable “suicide by cop” excuse used often by police officers, forces, and police associations to justify and legitimize police killings of civilians. It has interested copagandist “criminologists” (typically current or former cops) ready and willing to promote the excuse in court on behalf of (fellow) officers. The lawyers argue that because Yatim wanted to die, less lethal interventions from Forcillo would not have worked. Forcillo lawyer Joseph Wilkinson argued at the Monday hearing that the trial judge should have allowed the evidence to “counterbalance” the Crown’s view that Sammy Yatim was a “person in crisis” who Forcillo could have dealt with without deploying  lethal force. This excuse always  seeks to remove the conscious decision of officers  to shoot someone even in cases, like that of Sammy Yatim, the victim is alone and isolated and poses no direct or immediate threat to the public or officers. The officer has the opportunity to decide and still chooses to shoot to kill. That is not suicide by any definition.

The case is being heard by a three judge panel consisting of Chief Justice George Strathy, Justice David Doherty, and Justice Gary Trotter.


Killer Toronto Cop James Forcillo Has Bail Extended to 2018

Toronto police constable James Forcillo shot and killed Sammy Yatim in 2013. Forcillo shot Yatim multiple times, firing even after the stricken youth had fallen dead. At the time Forcillo shot Sammy Yatim, the distressed youth was isolated and completely alone on a Toronto streetcar posing no threat to police or the public (as captured on witness video of the killing). For this Forcillo was sentenced in 2016 to six years behind bars, for attempting to kill Yatim (but curiously not for murder). That sentence was a rarity for killer cops in Canada, who are rarely charged and almost never convicted as the state protects the state in such cases.

Forcillo has been out on bail as he appeals the verdict and sentence. On Friday, September 29, 2017, Forcillo was granted a bail extension. A bail extension document states that the appeal process will contain a “fresh evidence phase.” The previous bail conditions for Forcillo were set to expire on Sunday, October 1, 2017, one day before the killer cops is scheduled to appeal his conviction for attempted murder in killing Sammy Yatim. Forcillo will now remain free either until the day before that hearing or until April 2, 2018 (whichever comes first).

Killer cop Forcillo is asking the appeal court to substitute a not-guilty verdict or to  order a new trial in his case. Forcillo, a member of an institution that favors and promotes mandatory minimum sentences, is also seeking a declaration that the mandatory minimum sentence for attempted murder is unconstitutional (erstwhile proponents always want mandatory sentences dropped when they come close to home). Instead Forcillo wants to be granted a suspended sentence. Otherwise he seeks a reduction of his sentence to the minimum five years.

Incredibly, Forcillo’s appeal wishes to have arguments presented arguing for the bogus and discredited “suicide by cop” justification for police killings. This is a piece of propaganda, or copaganda, used to  excuse or legitimize police killings of civilians. It is a mechanism for blaming the victim and removing a killer cop’s responsibility in deciding to shoot and kill someone who may have been in distress, even where they posed no threat to the public or to officers (as in a youth alone in an empty streetcar). It is despicable and nasty ploy by police and their supporters. Unfortunately there are unprincipled “criminologists” for hire (usually active or former cops) who are willing to promote this copaganda in courts to defend killer cops.


Winnipeg Police Kill 33-Year-Old Man (September 23, 2017)

The Independent Investigation Unit (IIU), the agency that examines police harm to civilians in Manitoba, is investigating the killing of a 33-year-old man in “The Maples” area of Winnipeg on the afternoon of September 23, 2017. Police claim they encountered a conflict when responding to a report of a stabbing. They say one officer was stabbed after police became involved. The 33-year-old victim was shot by an officer and taken to Health Sciences Centre but died. None of the police claims have been independently confirmed. There have been three shootings of civilians by police in Winnipeg in the past three months alone.


Winnipeg Police Kill 23-Year-Old Adrian Lacquette (Sept. 13, 2017)

A Winnipeg mother is grieving and seeking answers after Winnipeg police shot and 23-year-old son, Adrian Lacquette in the early morning hours of September 13, 2017. Jo-Anne Malcolm says she found out about her son’s killing when representatives of the Independent Investigations Unit (IIU) came to her home around 6:00 AM. Malcolm recounts that interaction: “They said, ‘Do you know Adrian?’ And I said, ‘Yeah, that’s my son.’ I knew right away, I didn’t even ask. I said, ‘Is he dead?’ and they said, ‘Yeah. Sorry to tell you, ma’am. He was shot this morning” (quoted in Malone 2017). This is the ninth police shooting of a civilian in Manitoba since June 2015.

Police have claimed that a man, whom they would not name, was shot on Alfred Avenue near Powers Street in the city’s North End just before 1:00 AM Wednesday. Malcolm reports being told that the incident involved suspicion of a stolen car.

Clayton Campbell, who lives on Alfred Avenue near Powers Street, said that the incident happened very quickly. Police seemed to open fire shortly after encountering the victim. In his words: “It happened in a moment, a split moment. It was an eruption of gunfire” (quoted in Malone 2017).

Jo-Anne Malcolm wants to know what happened. In her words: “I want everybody to know that they shot my son for nothing, for a stolen car. I don’t think they should have shot him. My son is well-known to police, but they don’t have to treat him like that” (quoted in Malone 2017).

 

Further Reading

Malone, Kelly. 2017. “23-Year-Old Shot Dead By Winnipeg Police.” CBC News. September 13. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/north-end-police-serious-incident-1.4287071