Nova Scotia

Neighbours call out Halifax police for high-speed chase across lawns, school yard in residential area

A 39-year-old man is facing multiple charges after Halifax police chased a stolen vehicle through a residential neighbourhood Sunday afternoon.

Police eventually arrested man accused of stealing a vehicle

Neighbours call out Halifax police for high-speed chase

12 months ago
Duration 2:15
Residents in Fleming Heights say they're troubled by the potential safety risks taken by Halifax police during the high-speed pursuit suspect in a stolen car that tore through their neighbourhood on Sunday. Preston Mulligan has the story.

Residents in Fleming Heights, N.S., say they're troubled by the safety risks taken by Halifax police during the high-speed pursuit of a suspect in a stolen car that tore through their neighbourhood on Sunday.

Tom Levesque said in an interview Monday he stood on his front step and watched the cars whiz by at an estimated 80 km/h to 100 km/h during the chase which led police through the grounds of a local school.

"The police were chasing the perpetrator down the street at a very high rate of speed, where only moments before there were kids outside playing," Levesque said.

A 39-year-old man was arrested and is now facing multiple charges after Sunday's chase. He appeared in court Monday

A man is seen with grey hair, wearing glasses and a dark grey sweater over a pink collared shirt.
Tom Levesque, who lives in Fleming Heights, said police and the suspect in the stolen vehicle were going around 80 to 100 km/h during the chase. (Preston Mulligan/CBC)

A release from Halifax Regional Police said officers noticed a vehicle that had been reported stolen in Pictou County driving into Halifax on Old Sambro Road.

Officers tried to pull the vehicle over but the driver fled, according to the news release. Police then found the vehicle on a nearby cul-de-sac where officers tried to block the driver, but he rammed two police vehicles before driving across some lawns to escape.

Two officers suffered minor injuries and several lawns were damaged in the pursuit.

Police say the driver eventually became wedged between a building and a fence and officers were able to arrest the man.

Another resident, Ardath Whynacht, told CBC's Mainstreet residents had no warning "that multiple vehicles, including an unmarked car, were careening down our street," in the traffic-calmed neighbourhood.

She said neighbours circulated a note on social media telling residents to stay indoors while the chase took place. 

"Quite a few folks are shook up about what happened," she added. "There were quite a few parents who had to grab kids and run inside nearby neighbours' homes, especially when the police chase went through the field of an elementary school right next to a playground where quite a few kids were out playing and had their bikes."

Whynacht is also an associate professor at Mount Allison University, where she teaches criminology. She said in most jurisdictions, there are "really strict policies that govern when these high-speed chases can be used," as several civilians have been injured and killed by vehicles during the pursuits.

She hopes to have a public conversation about a "transparent and clear policy" on when these types of chases can be used by police, she added.

A man is seen with grey hair slick back from his facing and wearing black rectangular glasses, a navy blazer with white polka dots and a dark grey t-shirt.
Shawn Cleary is the municipal councillor of District 9 Halifax West Armdale. (Preston Mullligan/CBC)

Shawn Cleary, councillor for District 9 Halifax West-Armdale, said in an interview Monday he has empathy for people in the area.

When asked how or where residents could get information on the protocols for high-speed police chases, he added that those policies are developed by municipal police forces, which aren't directly accountable to municipal councils.

"Our [car chase] policies here in Nova Scotia are not all available, unlike some other jurisdictions" he said, and there's been a push by the board in recent years for more transparency about those protocols. 

"I don't know if a lot of that information is readily available right now," Cleary added, and he plans to relay information to residents in the area once he gets information from police.

With files from Preston Mulligan

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