Ex-cop in fatal crash testifies at Bakema perjury trial

The former Winnipeg police officer who caused a car crash that killed a woman in 2005 has told a court he still remembers nothing of that collision.

Derek Harvey-Zenk repeats claim that he recalls almost nothing of 2005 crash

The former Winnipeg police officer who caused a car crash that killed a woman in 2005 has told a court he still remembers nothing of that collision.

Derek Harvey-Zenk testified on Thursday in the trial of former East St. Paul police chief Harry Bakema, who is charged with obstruction of justice, perjury and breach of trust in connection with a botched police investigation following the Feb. 25, 2005, crash that killed Crystal Taman, 40.

Crystal Taman, shown in an undated photograph filed as part of a provincial inquiry into her 2005 death. ((Taman inquiry))

Bakema's trial began April 30 in Winnipeg. He is currently retired from police work.

Harvey-Zenk, also known as Derek Harveymordenzenk, was off-duty and driving home from an all-night party with fellow officers when he rear-ended Taman's car.

He originally faced several charges, including impaired driving causing death. But all the charges — except for one count of dangerous driving causing death — were eventually stayed as part of a controversial plea bargain.

Harvey-Zenk received a conditional sentence of two years less a day to be served at home. He has since turned in his police badge.

The plea bargain and sentence sparked public outrage and prompted the Manitoba government to call an inquiry into Taman's death.

During Bakema's trial on Thursday, Harvey-Zenk was asked about what happened on the night of the crash. He said virtually the same thing he said at the Taman inquiry.

"The only memory I have of the accident is feeling an impact," Harvey-Zenk told the inquiry in 2008.

Both officers had worked together

When asked in court if he recalled drinking the night of the crash, Harvey-Zenk said he had no recollection.

Harvey-Zenk did acknowledge, as he did at the 2008 inquiry, that he knew Bakema from when they were both Winnipeg police officers working in the city's North End.

The trial also heard on Thursday from retired Winnipeg police officer Corrine Scott, who was working as a superintendent at the time of the crash.

Scott testified that on the morning of the crash, she received a call from Bakema, telling her that Harvey-Zenk had been in a fatal car crash.

According to Scott, Bakema told her Harvey-Zenk had been drinking, had been at a party, and had the smell of alcohol on him.

Scott testified that Bakema seemed more focused on Harvey-Zenk, and not on the woman who had died.

Scott said she phoned an officer in the Winnipeg Police Service's professional standards unit to look into the case.

'I remember everything,' witness says

Winnipeg police officer Cecil Sveinson, who was Taman's cousin, testified on Thursday that he went to the crash site that day to perform an aboriginal spiritual ceremony.

Sveinson said while he was waiting for investigators to finish their work, he spoke with Bakema, who told him Harvey-Zenk was "pissed" and they had to get him out of there quickly.

In court, Sveinson was challenged on some changes he allegedly made in his testimony at the inquiry and into two separate investigations into the Harvey-Zenk case.

"I remember the smell of the aftershave that Harry Bakema was wearing," Sveinson replied. "I remember everything."

The trial is expected to hear, on Friday, testimony from Norm Carter, an East St. Paul police officer who ultimately charged Harvey-Zenk with impaired driving.