New Brunswick

Police officer crashed car responding to baby formula shoplifter call, trial hears

A Miramichi officer who crashed his police cruiser into a utility pole last summer was responding as backup on a call about a shoplifter who stole baby formula, his trial heard on Monday.

Miramichi Police Force Const. Eric Pomerleau is charged with dangerous driving on June 4, 2016

A Miramichi officer who crashed his police cruiser into a utility pole last summer responding as backup on a call about a shoplifter who stole baby formula, his trial heard on Monday.

Miramichi Police Force Const. Eric Pomerleau is charged with dangerous driving in connection with the June 4 incident.

He had a young woman in the vehicle with him at the time, according to Shelley Greeley, who witnessed the crash.

Greeley testified she saw the police car coming up behind her with its lights and siren on and she pulled over.

The dangerous driving trial of Miramichi Police Force Const. Eric Pomerleau, pictured here on the left with his defence lawyer T.J. Burke, is scheduled to run until Wednesday at Miramichi provincial court. (Kate Letterick/CBC)

The police car was travelling fast, she said, and there were other vehicles around, including a grey half-ton pickup truck that was stopped to turn.

The truck pulled over to the right, said Greeley. So did the police car. That's when it hit a pole, she said.

Greeley said she saw an officer get out of the police car. She also saw a young woman get out, she said.

'You didn't cut the police officer off?'

Ian Russell, who was driving the silver-grey truck, told the Miramichi provincial court he was trying to turn left into his business.

He said he didn't see the police car until it was behind him. 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, he said.

Russell said Pomerleau got out of the car and he heard him tell someone he was "cut off." Russell, who works in the insurance business, took exception to that. He said he didn't want anything "fabricated."

During a lengthy cross-examination by defence lawyer T.J. Burke, Russell questioned if he was being blamed for the accident.

Burke showed the court a short portion of the dashcam video from Pomerleau's police car. "You didn't cut the police officer off?" he asked. "No," Russell replied.

Alleged shoplifter known to carry weapons

The trial also heard a portion of the 911 call, when the dispatcher mentioned the alleged shoplifter was on conditions from a previous offence.

Const. Chris Hogan, who responded to the shoplifting call at Walmart that day, testified the alleged shoplifter was known to police.

An email about him had previously been circulated, advising officers he was known to sometimes carry a weapon, Hogan said.

Pomerleau offered to respond as backup, while Conrod Copley, the loss prevention officer at Walmart, detained the shoplifter, the courtroom heard.

Blackville RCMP investigated the crash and laid the charge.

The trial resumes on Tuesday at 9 a.m. It was scheduled to last three days, but officials hope to wrap up on Tuesday. Judge Natalie LeBlanc is presiding.


  • An earlier version of this story indicated Judge Geri Mahoney was presiding in the trial. Judge Natalie LeBlanc is hearing the trial.
    Jun 13, 2017 9:14 AM AT

With files from Kate Letterick