Calgary police retract statement about dead toddler's parent waving driver through intersection
Information was released 'without verification,' police now say, after Crown drops charge against driver
Calgary police have retracted a statement they initially made about the circumstances before a four-year-old girl was struck and killed by a pickup truck in Bowness — and a week after the driver saw the careless driving charge against her dropped.
Shortly after the fatal collision in May 2016, police told reporters that one of the girl's parents had waved the driver through the intersection at at 79th Street and 47th Avenue N.W. before Avi Toulon was hit.
But now police say that may not be true.
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"This information was inadvertently released to the media without verification," police said in a news release issued Thursday evening.
"The subsequent investigation could not confirm this fact and the origin of the information could not be traced. The Calgary Police Service apologizes to the Toulon family for the release of this information."
The retraction comes a week after the Crown withdrew its main charge against the driver, mid-trial.
In the immediate aftermath of the collision, police had generally described it as an unfortunate accident that didn't appear to be the driver's fault.
But more than three months later, in September 2016, they announced charges of careless driving and operating an uninsured motor vehicle against 38-year-old Tanis Lambert — non-criminal offences that fall under the provincial Traffic Safety Act.
The case just recently went to trial and the Crown opted to withdraw the careless driving charge after conflicting witness testimony.
Avi's parents are also suing the driver and have been critical of how police handled the case from the beginning.
Her father, Craig Toulon, said last year that police had spoken publicly about disputed details of the crash "before the investigating officers had obtained statements from me and my wife, the primary witnesses to the collision."
Judge Josh Hawkes, who was overseeing the driver's trial, broke from tradition and commented on the Crown's decision to withdraw the charge.
"In my opinion, this represents an entirely appropriate exercise of prosecutorial discretion," he said.
Through their civil lawyer, the the toddler's parents said they were "very disappointed" by the decision and "look forward to the full story coming out" as part of the lawsuit.
As part of their retraction, police said they are aware of the lawsuit and "will not be commenting further on this issue."