'All we want is justice': Funeral held for victim of fatal hit and run involving off-duty cop

Cody Severight was laid to rest next to his mother at a cemetery in Waywayseecappo after friends and family gathered for his funeral held in the First Nation Friday.

Cody Severight's family surprised by news 2 more officers now on paid leave

Cody Severight was 23 when he was killed. (Cody Severight/Facebook)

Cody Severight was laid to rest next to his mother at a cemetery in Waywayseecappo after friends and family gathered for his funeral in the First Nation Friday.

The 23-year-old was struck and killed while was crossing Main Street near Sutherland Avenue Oct. 10 in an alleged hit and run that has seen an off-duty Winnipeg police officer charged in connection to his death.

Justin Holz, a 34-year-old police constable, is charged with impaired driving causing death and failing to remain at the scene of an accident. Holz is currently on administrative leave with pay.

Friday's service at a packed community hall in Waywayseecappo followed a two-day wake held for Severight in the community 320 km northwest of Winnipeg. 
Gloria Lebold cries looking at the street where he grandson, Cody Severight, was hit by a vehicle on Tuesday. (John Einarson/CBC)

"We're all very hurt, we're all grieving," said Severight's grandmother Gloria Lebold after the funeral. "I'm very thankful that I've got a large family here in Waywayseecappo, all my brothers and sisters, there were a lot supporters from this reserve as well.

"There's a lot of hurt … it's very fresh and I still can't believe this happened."

A video honouring Severight's life was played during the traditional ceremony, which included drumming and a memorial table filled with photos of the young man family say was expecting his first child at the time of his death.

It was an emotional experience, said Severight's ex-girlfriend Jasmine Kithithee, with many people breaking down during the viewing.
Photos of Cody Severight were set up on a memorial table at his funeral held Friday in Waywayseecappo. (Riley Laychuk/CBC)

"They had an open casket … and when I seen the body that's when I really took it really hard," she said after the service. "He was a really good guy, they say the good ones have to go first. We're all here, we all showed up."

Two more officers on paid leave

Severight's funeral came the same day the Winnipeg Police Service announced two more officers have been put on paid administrative leave — and could face charges — in connection to the fatal hit and run.

Police Chief Danny Smyth said Friday the two officers had been assigned to help the investigation into Severight's death, but wouldn't elaborate on what led to them being put on paid leave.

"While I don't know if the two officers have done anything criminal, it is in the best interest of the service that they be removed from duty right now," he said.
Winnipeg police Chief Danny Smyth said Friday two more WPS officers are on paid leave in connection to the fatal hit and run. (John Einarson/CBC)

At the news conference Smyth said breath samples were obtained from Holz three to four hours after arresting officers believed he was impaired. He said the two officers who have been placed on leave did not administer the breathalyzer tests and they did not attend the crash scene.

Severight's grandmother was shocked by the news.

"I'm very surprised, because you would think that they would act on it immediately after what happened to my grandson," said Lebold, who told CBC News she hasn't heard a word from Winnipeg police since her grandson's death. "What makes me angry is why the police officer didn't stop to assist my grandson when this happened — they just left him there."

Kithithee said she's concerned by the length of time it took for Holz's breath sample to be taken. 

"It makes me angry that they wouldn't do it right away because that kind of defeats the purpose, because what if they can't determine how drunk he really was?" 
Police diverted traffic on Main Street on Oct. 10 where Cody Severight was killed. (Travis Golby/CBC)

Holz has been released on bail on a promise to appear in court Nov. 22, and Lebold said she's going to try to be at every one of the officer's court date in the hopes of finding out what happened the night her grandson was killed.

"I don't know exactly what happened, how the accident occurred because nobody came to tell us what happened," she said. "All we want is justice."