Nova Scotia

Hearing questions Cape Breton police policy on handling of underage drinking

A hearing resumed today looking into how Cape Breton police handled the death of a teen who was struck and killed by a vehicle in 2018.

Joneil Hanna died in June 2018 when he was hit by a car leaving a graduation party

Joneil Hanna is shown with his baby daughter. He was struck and killed in June 2018 after a graduation party. (Gofundme)

A hearing resumed Tuesday looking into how Cape Breton police handled the death of a Cape Breton teen. 

Joneil Hanna was struck and killed in June of 2018 on a rural road following a graduation party.

On Tuesday, three officers with Cape Breton Regional Police were questioned about the events that unfolded the night Hanna died.

Particularly, the board heard questions about the amount of underage drinking happening at the party in Leitches Creek.

Sgt. Dale MacLean was asked about the graduation celebration and how police interacted with the intoxicated high school-aged teenagers.

All officers have discussed the fact that several hundred people had gathered on the property, but only a handful of arrests occurred over the course of the evening related to public intoxication.

Joneil Hanna's family wearing 'Justice for Joneil' hats and masks. (Matthew Moore/CBC)

The hearing board questioned what policy is around underage drinking and why little action was taken to prevent more drinking at the party.

Each officer was asked if they noticed the presence of alcohol at the party and who was consuming.

Cst. Nicole Muise was asked by the board about how Cape Breton Regional Police handle instances of underage drinking at events similar to the grad party in 2018.

Subsequent questions around the police's early handling and investigation of the case were brought up surrounding why Hayden Laffin, the driver of the vehicle, was allowed to leave the scene.

Retired officer John Ratchford said he questioned the release of Laffin from the scene, and asked the officer responsible, Steve Sibley, why they let him go.

Sibley indicated yesterday that he had no grounds to keep Laffin and could not sense any alcohol impairment.

More officers with regional police are expected to appear before the hearing this week with witness accounts being presented next week.

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