Hit-run victim's family disappointed accused did not make court appearance

The family of a Winnipeg man killed in a hit-and-run last month hoped to see the off-duty police officer charged in the deadly incident in court on Wednesday. They came away disappointed.

Cody Severight, 23, was killed in October incident, off-duty police officer charged

Melissa Severight fights back tears while speaking about her brother Cody Severight outside court on Wednesday. (Lyza Sale/CBC)

The family of a Winnipeg man killed in a hit-and-run last month hoped to see the off-duty police officer charged in the deadly incident in court on Wednesday. They came away disappointed.

"All we want is justice for my grandson [Cody Severight]," Gloria Lebold said Thursday afternoon. "His life was cut so short."

Severight, 23, was struck and killed while crossing Main Street near Sutherland Avenue about 8 p.m. on Oct. 10.

Const. Justin Holz, 34, had a court appearance Wednesday, but a representative from his lawyer's law firm appeared on his behalf. 

Holz's lawyer, Josh Weinstein, said personal appearances are usually only required in cases where the accused has a history of skipping court or breaching a court order or at risk of going on the run.

"None of these are concerns with Const. Holz," he said in an email.

Those close to Cody Severight brought photos of him to court on Wednesday. (Lyza Sale/CBC)

Nevertheless, not being able to see Holz for themselves didn't sit well with Severight's loved ones. 

Some close to Severight planned a march from outside the Sutherland Hotel where he was killed to court, but cancelled it after only three people showed up Wednesday morning.

Loved ones share photos

Loved ones who showed up to court passed around an album filled with photos of Severight in the crowded courtroom as they waited to hear Holz's name come up on the docket. They left after the matter was adjourned to Dec. 12.

Gloria Lebold says she simply wants justice for her grandson. (Lyza Sale/CBC)

Fighting back tears outside of court, Melissa Severight said she lost everything when her brother was killed last month.

"Most of my brothers are in jail and he's the only protection I [had] on the street — pretty much my everything," she said.

Jasmine Kithithee, who dated Severight for about six years, came to court wearing a sweater with the letters RIP followed by his name.

Severight's family say they will continue to come to court, even if it's just a procedural matter that doesn't require Holz's presence.

Police diverted traffic on Main Street on Oct. 10 where Cody Severight was killed. (Travis Golby/CBC)

Holz has been charged with impaired driving causing death and failing to stop at the scene of an accident involving death. He is currently out on bail.

Weinstein has stressed his client hasn't been found guilty of a crime, and none of the charges have been proven in court.

About the Author

Austin Grabish

Reporter

​Austin Grabish is a reporter for CBC News in Winnipeg​ where he files for TV, web and radio. ​​Born and raised in Manitoba, Austin has had an itch for news since he was young. He landed his first byline when he was just 18. Before joining CBC, he reported for several outlets with work running across the country. He studied human rights in university and holds both a degree and diploma in communications.​ Connect with him here: austin.grabish@cbc.ca