Calgary

All charges related to fatal crash investigation dropped against Calgary officers but police won't say why

With no explanation given, all charges were withdrawn Wednesday against three police officers accused of failing in their duties the night a confessed drunk driver killed two pedestrians. 

Driver who killed 2 admitted drinking, but police didn't test him and charges were never laid

Chris Turner, 25, and Edyta Wal, 23, were crossing Macleod Trail at 90th Avenue S.E. on Aug. 25, 2012, when they were struck. The driver disclosed to police that he was drunk but he was never tested for blood alcohol content, so charges were never laid. (legacy.com, Ziggy Wal)

With no explanation given, all charges were withdrawn Wednesday against three police officers accused of failing in their duties the night a confessed drunk driver killed two pedestrians. 

Chris Turner, 25, and Edyta Wal, 23, were crossing Macleod Trail at 90th Avenue S.E. in a crosswalk on Aug. 25, 2012, when they were hit by a Jetta.

At the scene, the man driving that car told at least one officer he'd been drinking and showed physical signs of being impaired, according to the police file. 

Still, officers did not demand a breath or blood sample and the man was never charged.

Last year — following a 2014 complaint made to the Calgary Police Service by a lawyer for the Wal family — Chief Mark Neufeld charged three officers, including Const. Grant Maveal, with neglect of duty and discreditable conduct under the Alberta Police Act.

The three officers accused of failing in their duties were Maveal, Const. R. MacDonald and Const. T. Rutherford.

Those charges were all withdrawn Wednesday nearly 10 years after Wal and Turner were killed. CBC News has requested a comment or statement from CPS.

'CPS has once again failed,' says Turner family

The Turner family issued a written statement saying they had "expected more" but "are not surprised by the outcome."

"Just shy of a decade, the CPS has once again failed in doing its due diligence in both investigating and holding those accountable for this crime," said the family.

Both families are upset, not only because of the withdrawn charges but because they've been promised an explanation and have yet to receive one. 

In several emails sent to both the victims' families and CBC News, CPS said the reason the hearing was adjourned in October was so that the service could prepare "a detailed statement of the facts surrounding the accident."

The detailed statement would help the public and victims' families understand what happened and why the charges were being dropped, said CPS at the time. 

'We will tell you the facts,' CPS says to families

Police told CBC News in October that the service would explain on Dec. 1 how new legislative changes "have clarified when police officers can legally collect blood samples for potential alcohol impairment."

The hearing lasted just 2½ minutes and no statement was read.

CPS also told the Wal and Turner families that one of its deputy chiefs, as well as the presiding officer, would meet with them ahead of Wednesday's hearing so they could explain why the charges were being withdrawn. 

"At that meeting, we will tell you the facts uncovered by the investigation into the collision, including the steps taken by the officers who investigated the collision," wrote CPS lawyer Valerie Campbell. 

"We will also discuss the law governing an officer's ability to collect breath and blood samples and the length of time taken by the investigation. We will also answer your questions and explain why the allegations against the three officers will be withdrawn on Dec. 1."

Five days ago, that meeting was rescheduled and will now take place next week.

Driver tells officer he had a 'mickey' of booze

Wal died in an ambulance after the collision. Turner died two days later in hospital.

The families say they can't understand why police did not investigate the driver for impairment. 

CBC News is not naming the driver because he was never charged.

The man driving the car told responding officer Maveal that he had consumed a "mickey" (12 ounces) of alcohol to himself, and expressed concern he would go to jail for impaired driving.

He also said at the scene that he'd been travelling 90 km/h in a 60 km/h zone, although the accident reconstruction report found the fastest the Jetta was travelling when it struck the victims was 72 km/h.

'Maveal did not have lawful grounds'

Not only did police have the driver's own admissions, the police file shows he also showed "impaired judgment and recall of events, vision difficulties, loss of consciousness, difficulties walking and speaking" — all signs of impairment.

"While it is terribly tragic that two young people lost their lives, Const. Maveal conducted a thorough investigation," said the officer's lawyer, Cory Wilson.

The driver, says Wilson, told Maveal he'd stopped drinking around 9 p.m., four hours earlier. 

Wilson said his client placed his face close to the driver's and no smell of alcohol was detected. 

"Const. Maveal consulted with three officers, including two from the traffic unit and a superior. All agreed that based on the complete lack of indicia of impairment, Const. Maveal did not have lawful grounds to make a breath or blood demand."

Lawsuit against driver settled out of court

A CPS inspector, who was not in Calgary when the incident took place but became involved a year later as the head of the traffic section, sent an email in May 2013 explaining that officers did not conduct a breath or blood test because none of the responders believed the driver had alcohol in his system.

When Ziggy Wal arrived in Calgary after his daughter's death, he says police assured him alcohol was not a factor in the crash. 

A lawsuit filed by the victims' families in 2013 against the driver, which alleged excessive speed and alcohol impairment, was settled out of court for an undisclosed amount.

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