Crash sparks lawsuit by family of woman killed by off-duty officer
The family of a Manitoba woman killed in a 2005 car crash caused by Derek Harvey-Zenk is suing the provincial government, Winnipeg police and others over the investigation and prosecution of the off-duty officer.
Crystal Taman, a 40-year-old mother of three, was killed in February 2005 when her car was struck from behind by a truck driven by off-duty officer Harvey-Zenk, who had spent the night partying with other officers.
Harvey-Zenk, also known as Derek Harveymordenzenk, was initially charged with refusing a breathalyzer test, impaired driving causing death and criminal negligence causing death.
But all alcohol-related charges were dropped when he pleaded guilty to dangerous driving causing death and received a conditional sentence of house arrest. He later turned in his badge and is no longer a police officer.
Public outrage in the wake of the plea agreement and sentence prompted the provincial government to launch the inquiry to examine the justice system's handling of the case.
The inquiry's findings were including in a report last October, which included recommendations for:
- Establishing an independent unit to investigate alleged criminal activity by a member of a police service.
- Expanding the rights of parents and children of victims.
- Providing enhanced services to victims including assistance in writing victim impact statements.
- Amending prosecution policies to underline the importance of presenting the judge with as much information as possible about a guilty plea or plea bargain.
Taman's family is seeking financial compensation from the Rural Municipality of East St. Paul, including its former police chief Harry Bakema, the Winnipeg Police Service, including five officers who investigated the matter, and the province, including special prosecutor Marty Minuk.
The respondents have not replied to the family's allegations.
The East St. Paul police force was initially in charge of investigating the crash with the assistance of the Winnipeg Police Service.
Manitoba has since disbanded that municipal force, and policing for the community just north of Winnipeg has been assumed by the RCMP.