2 Winnipeg officers put on leave in connection with fatal hit and run involving constable

Two Winnipeg police officers assigned to help investigate a fellow officer's involvement in a fatal hit and run have been placed on paid administrative leave and could face charges.

3 to 4 hours passed before breathalyzer test done on constable charged in hit and run

Two Winnipeg police officers assigned to help investigate a fellow officer's involvement in a fatal hit and run have been placed on paid administrative leave and could face charges. 1:50

Two Winnipeg police officers assigned to help investigate a fellow officer's involvement in a fatal hit and run have been placed on paid administrative leave and could face charges. 

"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," said Winnipeg police Chief Danny Smyth in a news conference Friday afternoon. 

Justin Holz, a 34-year-old police constable who was off-duty at the time of the fatal collision, was arrested in connection with the death of Cody Severight last week.

The 23-year-old was struck and killed while was crossing Main Street near Sutherland Avenue around 8 p.m. on Oct. 10.

Two officers who were assigned to assist in the investigation into the fatal hit and run of Cody Severight were placed on paid administrative leave, pending the outcome of an investigation by the province's Independent Investigation Unit (IIU). 1:06

Holz is charged with impaired driving causing death and failing to remain at the scene of an accident. He's on administrative leave with pay.

On Friday, 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.

Sources told CBC they were traffic officers.

Manitoba's police oversight body, the Independent Investigation Unit, said Friday that it was notified of "irregular and improper conduct of two officers" and is assessing whether charges should be laid.

Two traffic officers connected with the investigation into a fatal hit and run that killed 23-year-old Cody Severight have been placed on administrative leave, sources say. (Travis Golby/CBC)

Sources said one of the officers placed on leave was at The Pint, the same downtown restaurant and bar that Holz was at before the crash. ​​A source told CBC the officer was not drinking with Holz at The Pint.

Smyth said drinking after work is not considered troubling. Instead he was concerned about "actions that occurred after Mr. Severight was struck."

The police chief said he could not provide details because the IIU is now involved, but he said the force will deal with any improper actions "head on."

"As you can see through my actions I don't have a lot of tolerance for people that aren't going to do their job or act professionally," said Smyth.

A homicide sergeant has been assigned to work with the Independent Investigation Unit to co-ordinate Winnipeg police involvement in the investigation.

Public information Const. Jay Murray said it is common for IIU to work with homicide detectives on complex cases like this because they have extensive knowledge in areas like forensics that can be useful in the investigation.

The news comes the same day Severight's family gathered to hold a funeral for him in Waywayseecappo First Nation. They are demanding justice and a thorough investigation.

Holz was released on bail on a promise to appear in court Nov. 22.

Winnipeg police Chief Danny Smyth announces two more officers have been put on leave after the investigation into fatal hit and run. 7:47

About the Author

Laura Glowacki

Reporter

Laura Glowacki is a reporter based in Winnipeg. Before moving to Manitoba in 2015, she worked as an associate producer for CBC's Metro Morning in Toronto. Find her on Twitter @glowackiCBC and reach her by email at laura.glowacki@cbc.ca.

With files from Austin Grabish