The Taman Inquiry into the Investigation and Prosecution of Derek Harvey-Zenk is the Manitoba provincial government inquiry into the death of Crystal Taman. Taman was killed in a car accident with Derek Harvey-Zenk, an off-duty police officer, who was allegedly drunk. The inquiry heard testimony between June 2 and August 14, 2008.
On February 25, 2005, near East St. Paul and Winnipeg, a truck driven by 31-year-old Derek Harvey-Zenk, a Constable with the Winnipeg Police Service, rear-ended and killed Crystal Taman, a 40-year-old mother of three, while she was stopped at a red light. The crash also injured a second woman, the wife of a Winnipeg police inspector.
The accident was initially investigated by East St. Paul police, led by Police Chief Harry Bakema. It would later be revealed that Harvey-Zenk and Bakema had previously worked together at the Winnipeg Police Service.
Paramedics attending the scene reported that they smelled alcohol on Harvey-Zenk's breath.
Investigation and charges
A week later, Harvey-Zenk was charged with impaired driving causing death, refusing a breathalyser test, dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing death, and criminal negligence causing death. The provincial government appointed a private Winnipeg lawyer, Marty Minuk, special prosecutor for the case to avoid any potential conflicts of interest between the police and regular crown attorneys.
In July 2007, however, Harvey-Zenk was pled down to dangerous driving causing death (a lesser charge) and the other charges were dropped. Despite reservations from provincial Chief Justice Ray Wyant, he was given a conditional sentence of "two years less a day", to be served at his home. He also resigned as a police officer.
The inquiry heard almost two months of conflicting testimony, which suggested an inadequate investigation by police had forced Minuk, the special prosecutor, into the controversial plea bargain.
Testimony revealed that Harvey-Zenk had spent the evening with other officers at a local restaurant and the home of another officer. Despite reports from the accident scene that Harvey-Zenk smelled of liquor, officers with him that evening denied having seen him drinking. Furthermore, a waitress who served the officers liquor throughout the evening testified that she was pressured to not "remember too much" by the restaurant's manager, who was "friends" with the officers. In response to the allegations other officers covered for Harvey-Zenk, Police Chief Keith McCaskill volunteered to testify, instructing his officers to "be truthful". (McCaskill was not chief at the time of the accident.)
The inquiry's final report has not yet been released.
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