Taman Inquiry

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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.[1] The inquiry heard testimony between June 2 and August 14, 2008.[2]

Incident[edit]

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.[3] 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.[4] It would later be revealed that Harvey-Zenk and Bakema had previously worked together at the Winnipeg Police Service.[4]

Paramedics attending the scene reported that they smelled alcohol on Harvey-Zenk's breath.[1]

Investigation and charges[edit]

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.[5] 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.[6]

In July 2007, however, Harvey-Zenk was pled down to dangerous driving causing death (a lesser charge) and the other charges were dropped.[5] Despite reservations from provincial Chief Justice Ray Wyant,[7] he was given a conditional sentence of "two years less a day", to be served at his home.[8] He also resigned as a police officer.[9]

Public outcry over the plea and allegations that the investigation had been botched[9] led to a provincial inquiry, which began in June 2008.[10]

The inquiry[edit]

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.[4][6]

Testimony revealed that Harvey-Zenk had spent the evening with other officers at a local restaurant and the home of another officer.[3] Despite reports from the accident scene that Harvey-Zenk smelled of liquor,[1] officers with him that evening denied having seen him drinking.[11] 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.[12] In response to the allegations other officers covered for Harvey-Zenk, Police Chief Keith McCaskill volunteered to testify, instructing his officers to "be truthful".[13] (McCaskill was not chief at the time of the accident.)

Officers involved in the investigation denied that they gave preferential treatment to Harvey-Zenk.[14] Likewise, the prosecution has denied there were any favours given to the defence.[6]

The inquiry's final report has not yet been released.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "Paramedic, constable smelled alcohol on cop in deadly crash: inquiry". CBC News. 2008-07-04. Retrieved 2008-08-21. 
  2. ^ "Taman Inquiry into the Investigation and Prosecution of Derek Harvey-Zenk". Retrieved 2008-08-21. 
  3. ^ a b "Taman inquiry a timeline". Winnipeg Free Press. 2008-08-15. Retrieved 2008-08-21. [dead link]
  4. ^ a b c "'I did the best I could do': ex-chief at Taman inquiry". CBC News. 2008-07-15. Retrieved 2008-08-21. 
  5. ^ a b "Winnipeg officer pleads guilty to dangerous driving causing death". CBC News. 2007-07-17. Retrieved 2008-08-21. 
  6. ^ a b c "No favours given to defence, prosecutor tells Taman Inquiry". CBC News. 2008-07-29. Retrieved 2008-08-21. 
  7. ^ "Sentence delayed for former police officer guilty in woman's death". CBC News. 2007-08-22. Retrieved 2008-08-21. 
  8. ^ "No jail time for ex-cop who killed woman in car crash". CBC News. 2007-10-29. Retrieved 2008-08-21. 
  9. ^ a b "Case against Harvey-Zenk plagued with legal problems, inquiry hears". CBC News. 2008-07-29. Retrieved 2008-08-21. 
  10. ^ "Province calls inquiry into ex-cop's conviction in crash". CBC News. 2007-10-30. Retrieved 2008-08-21. 
  11. ^ "Cop tells Taman inquiry he was too busy to notice colleagues' drinking". CBC News. 2008-07-18. Retrieved 2008-08-21. 
  12. ^ "Police officers 'drank a lot' on night before fatal crash: former waitress". CBC News. 2008-07-17. Retrieved 2008-08-21. 
  13. ^ "'Be truthful': Winnipeg chief to officers on Taman case". CBC News. 2008-07-17. Retrieved 2008-08-24. 
  14. ^ "No conspiracy to protect officer involved in fatal crash, inquiry told". CBC News. 2008-07-07. Retrieved 2008-08-21. 

External links[edit]