New Brunswick

Police officer drove 72 km/h above limit responding to baby formula shoplifter call

A Miramichi Police Force officer was driving at least 72 km/h above the posted speed limit when he crashed his cruiser responding as backup on a call about a shoplifter who stole baby formula, his trial heard on Tuesday.

Const. Eric Pomerleau charged with dangerous driving after crashing car into a pole on June 4, 2016

A Miramichi Police Force officer was driving at least 72 km/h above the posted speed limit when he crashed his cruiser responding as backup to a call about a shoplifter who stole baby formula, his trial heard Tuesday.

Const. Eric Pomerleau, who had a female New Brunswick Community College student in his vehicle on June 4, 2016, when it slammed into a pickup truck and then into a utility pole, is charged with dangerous driving.

Miramichi provincial court ​Judge Natalie LeBlanc reserved decision until July 19.

During closing arguments Tuesday, Crown prosecutor Christopher Lavigne said Pomerleau put life and property in danger.

Lavigne urged the court to consider several factors, such as speed — 132 km/h along a stretch of the two-lane King George Highway that's zoned between 50 and 60 km/h — rapid acceleration and passing on a solid line.

Pomerleau created an unpredictable situation, but wanted people to act predictably, said Lavigne.

There was no emergency until the crash occurred, he said.

The dangerous driving trial of Const. Eric Pomerleau, pictured here on left with defence lawyer T.J. Burke, continued in Miramichi provincial court on Tuesday. (Kate Letterick/CBC)
Defence lawyer T.J. Burke countered that Pomerleau did not drive dangerously and should be acquitted.

Speed alone does not constitute dangerous driving, said Burke, who did not present any evidence during the two-day trial.

There was no evidence of erratic driving, said Burke. And a dashcam video from Pomerleau's car showed he did obey the rules, he said.

Although two witnesses testified they did not hear sirens, Burke said the video showed other vehicles pulled over.

Burke blamed the driver of the pickup truck, who was waiting to turn left, for failing to yield and causing the crash.

Ian Russell, who was driving the truck, testified Monday that he was trying to turn left into his business and didn't see the police car until it was behind him.

He said he pulled over to the right to get out of the way, but the police car tried to go around him on the right and crashed into the pole.

Possibly not wearing seatbelt

Data gathered from Pomerleau's cruiser showed it was travelling at 132 km/h one second before impact, RCMP collision reconstructionist Cpl. Michel Lanteigne told the court.

The margin of error is plus or minus four per cent, said Lanteigne.

The data also indicated the driver was not wearing a seatbelt, he said. But that information couldn't be proven, said Lanteigne, because he did not visit the crash site or examine the seatbelt.

The alleged shoplifter was known to police, the court heard on Monday. An email about him had previously been circulated, advising officers he was known to sometimes carry a weapon, Const. Chris Hogan testified.

With files from Kate Letterick