Tag Archives: driving

Killer Cop Simon Beaulieu and the Policing Assumptions that Take Lives

Quebec City police officer Simon Beaulieu killed 48-year-old  Guy Blouin when he struck the cyclist with his police vehicle on Sept. 3, 2014. During Beaulieu’s ongoing trial for criminal negligence and dangerous driving causing death, Yves Brière, a crime scene reconstruction expert with the Sûreté du Québec (the provincial force), earlier testified that he estimated Beaulieu to be traveling in reverse at 44 km/h when the cruiser hit and drove over Blouin on his bicycle.

On October18, 2017, officer Beaulieu took the stand. His testimony was interesting in revealing several generally held police assumptions about people that contribute to the killing of civilians by police.

First, cops assume everyone is a criminal (except themselves). Beaulieu testified that he was on a routine patrol in the Saint-Roch neighborhood when he observed Guy Blouin cycling toward him. But Blouin was riding his bike on a one-way street in the wrong direction. So Beaulieu assumed something was up and maneuvered his police car to block the cyclist.

Second, cops assume that everyone respects their authority unquestioningly, so anyone who does not listen to an officer’s orders must be up to something or hiding something. So, when Blouin rode his bike around the car and appeared to ignore the police order to stop, Beaulieu immediately suspected the cyclist had been involved in criminal activity. Not that he did not hear the order or had no reason to be stooped by police. In Beaulieu’s own words: ”In my experience, someone who doesn’t stop has something to hide” (quoted in Page 2017). So Beaulieu backed the police car into and over Blouin.

Third, cops assume that victims will be grateful for help offered initially from the very officers who hurt them. Beaulieu heard Blouin scream in agony from being driven over and excited his police car and saw the stricken man on the ground with leg and shoulder injuries. According to Beaulieu, the victim was agitated and refusing help from the officers. Did they call for medical help right away?

Fourth, and incredibly, cops assume that telling someone they are under arrest will calm them down!?! In Beaulieu’s words: “He was not collaborating, so I tried telling him he was under arrest to get him to calm down,” (quoted in Page 2017).

Fifth, cops assume that traveling in an ambulance with someone they have injured only moments before will make the victim less agitated. In this case both officers went with Blouin to hospital because , in their view, he was visibly agitated. And why wouldn’t he be?

In this case, Blouin remained agitated as the officers accompanied him . He lost consciousness en route and died only 20 minutes after being driven over by officer Beaulieu.

It turns out that the bike Blouin was riding at the time, which Beaulieu assumed was stolen because the rider was going the wrong way on a one way street and did not stop when an officer ordered him to, had been purchased by Guy Blouin at a local pawn shop. Police assumptions kill. An do so with frequency in the Canadian state context.

 

Further Reading

Page, Julia. 2017. “Quebec City Police Officer Accused of Running Over Cyclist Says Speed Wasn’t Over 25 km/h.” CBC News October 18. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/simon-beaulieu-testimony-guy-blouin-death-1.4360387

 

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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

 


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


Winnipeg Officer Arrested For Death of Pedestrian struck by Vehicle (Oct. 10, 2017)

The Independent Investigations Unit (IIU), which examines cases of police harm to civilians, is investigating the death of a 23-year-old pedestrian struck and killed by a vehicle Tuesday around 8 PM at the corner of Main Street and Sutherland Avenue. The investigation has led to the arrest of a Winnipeg police officer. The young victim was taken to hospital in critical condition and later died as a result of the injuries caused by the officer.


Victims of Fatal Police Chase Identified as Teenagers Nathan Wehlre (15) and Taryn Hewitt (16)

Fifteen-year-old Nathan Wehlre from Cambridge, Ontario and 16-year-old Taryn Hewitt of London, Ontario have been publicly identified as the victims of a fatal police chase on October 5, 2017, that ended in a crash described as “devastating” between the car being pursued and a transport truck. Family members have described the two as being in a relationship. The police chase was initiated by officers of the Waterloo Regional Police after a witness saw the couple arguing on the street in Cambridge, Ontario. The crash occurred on Highway 6 between Guelph and Hamilton. The Special Investigations Unit, which examines police harm to civilians, is investigating.


Two Killed in Police Chase near Guelph (October 5, 2017)

Two people, a man and a woman, are dead following a police pursuit on Highway 6, south of Guelph, Ontario, around 10 AM on the morning of October 5, 2017. The car had been pursued by officers of the Waterloo Regional Police. The pursuit started at 9:30 AM. The pursued vehicle then drove east on Highway 401, then turned south onto Highway 6. At about 9:55 AM, roughly 30 KM away from the location at which the officers first tried to intercept the car, the vehicle collided head-on with a transport truck in a devastating crash that destroyed the car and killed its occupants. Both the male driver and the female passenger of the pursued vehicle were pronounced dead at the crash scene. The transport truck driver was not physically injured.

The Special Investigations Unit (SIU), which examines case of police harm to civilians in Ontario, is investigating the chase and crash.  They have not disclosed how many Waterloo Regional Police officers were involved although reportedly at least three police cruisers were at the crash scene.