Dangerous driving causing death charge added for Winnipeg police officer in fatal hit and run

A Winnipeg police officer is facing three more charges in connection with the hit and run that left 23-year-old Cody Severight dead.

Justin Holz also faces additional charges of dangerous driving, blood-alcohol content over .08%

Winnipeg Police and cadets closed a stretch of northbound Main Street near Sutherland Avenue for an investigation in October after a hit and run. (Jules Runne/CBC)

A Winnipeg police officer is facing three more charges in connection with the hit and run that left 23-year-old Cody Severight dead.

Justin Holz is facing additional charges of dangerous driving causing death, dangerous driving and driving with a blood-alcohol level over .08 per cent causing death.

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

Holz, a 34-year-old police constable who was off-duty at the time of the fatal collision, was initially charged with impaired driving causing death and failing to remain at the scene of an accident. He's on administrative leave with pay.

A Winnipeg police officer is facing three more charges in connection with the hit and run that left 23-year-old Cody Severight dead. Justin Holz is facing additional charges of dangerous driving causing death, dangerous driving and driving with a blood-alcohol level over .08 per cent causing death. 1:43

The Independent Investigation Unit (IIU), which investigates all serious incidents involving Manitoba police officers, has been probing the death.

On Tuesday, the IIU said Holz was facing the additional charges, which included dangerous driving causing death and driving with a blood-alcohol level over .08 per cent. Breath samples were obtained from Holz several hours after the hit and run, police said in October, but at the time the results of a breathalyzer hadn't come in.

Currently, the maximum sentence for a dangerous driving causing death conviction is 14 years behind bars, but legislation proposed earlier this year would push that to life.

Two other police officers, assigned to help investigate the hit and run, were also placed on paid administrative leave and could face charges, police said on Oct. 20. Those officers did not administer the breathalyzer tests and they did not attend the crash scene.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving Winnipeg chapter president Denise Elias said she was disappointed to hear about the new charges.

"The first feeling that I had was sadness. It is very disappointing, very hurtful," she said, to hear about such charges against someone who has sworn "to uphold the law, to abide by the law and … work so hard to keep us safe, to keep our roads safe."

'He did a terrible thing'

Gloria Lebold, Severight's grandmother, said she is glad the officer is facing more charges. 

"I'm glad he's got all of these charges. I'm glad he's going to have to deal with them," she said.  

"I think he should go to jail. He did a terrible thing. He took an innocent life, only 23 years old. We loved our little grandson." 

Cody Severight, 23, was hit and killed by a vehicle in October. (Cody Severight/Facebook)

Holz had his first court appearance scheduled for last Wednesday, but a representative from his lawyer's firm appeared on his behalf. The officer is currently out on bail.

Lebold said with the additional charges, she hopes to see Holz in court. The family has called for an apology from the officer.

"For me, I think he should be in jail because of all these charges," she said. 

Severight was making exciting plans for his future when he was killed, Lebold said. He had just moved to a new apartment and was planning on going back to school. 

"We loved our Cody. This little guy was just starting his life," Lebold said. 

The IIU said the investigation is ongoing.

With files from Austin Grabish