The Taman Inquiry into the Investigation and Prosecution of Derek Harvey-Zenk was the 2008 Manitoba provincial government inquiry into the death of Crystal Taman. Taman was killed in 2005 by Derek Harvey-Zenk, an off-duty Winnipeg police officer who was allegedly driving drunk when his truck rear-ended Taman, who was stopped at a red light. The inquiry heard testimony between June 2 and August 14, 2008.
Incident and investigation
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.
Charges and plea deal
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 pleaded guilty in a plea bargain to dangerous driving causing death (a lesser charge) and the other charges were dropped. Despite reservations from the trial judge, Chief Judge 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 was released in October 2008 and contained 14 recommendations. These recommendations included reforms to the manner police are investigated for crimes and resolving potential conflict of interest, increased training and implementation of victim impact statements, new guidelines for making plea bargains and increased training of the East St. Paul police. The province has claimed to have implemented most of these recommendations; however they chose to disband the East St. Paul police, replacing them with Royal Canadian Mounted Police officers, rather than offer training.
- "Paramedic, constable smelled alcohol on cop in deadly crash: inquiry". CBC News. 2008-07-04. Retrieved 2008-08-21.
- "Taman Inquiry into the Investigation and Prosecution of Derek Harvey-Zenk". Retrieved 2008-08-21.
- "Taman inquiry a timeline". Winnipeg Free Press. 2008-08-15. Retrieved 2008-08-21.[dead link]
- "'I did the best I could do': ex-chief at Taman inquiry". CBC News. 2008-07-15. Retrieved 2008-08-21.
- "Winnipeg officer pleads guilty to dangerous driving causing death". CBC News. 2007-07-17. Retrieved 2008-08-21.
- "No favours given to defence, prosecutor tells Taman Inquiry". CBC News. 2008-07-29. Retrieved 2008-08-21.
- "Sentence delayed for former police officer guilty in woman's death". CBC News. 2007-08-22. Retrieved 2008-08-21.
- "No jail time for ex-cop who killed woman in car crash". CBC News. 2007-10-29. Retrieved 2008-08-21.
- "Case against Harvey-Zenk plagued with legal problems, inquiry hears". CBC News. 2008-07-29. Retrieved 2008-08-21.
- "Province calls inquiry into ex-cop's conviction in crash". CBC News. 2007-10-30. Retrieved 2008-08-21.
- "Cop tells Taman inquiry he was too busy to notice colleagues' drinking". CBC News. 2008-07-18. Retrieved 2008-08-21.
- "Police officers 'drank a lot' on night before fatal crash: former waitress". CBC News. 2008-07-17. Retrieved 2008-08-21.
- "'Be truthful': Winnipeg chief to officers on Taman case". CBC News. 2008-07-17. Retrieved 2008-08-24.
- "No conspiracy to protect officer involved in fatal crash, inquiry told". CBC News. 2008-07-07. Retrieved 2008-08-21.