Winnipeg cop put on leave after allegedly killing man while driving impaired
The man was transported to hospital in critical condition and later died, which led to the arrest of an off duty Winnipeg police officer.
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Manitoba’s independent investigation unit (IIU) is looking into two separate incidents—one of them deadly—in which off-duty Winnipeg police officers allegedly hit pedestrians with cars on the same day.
One officer is facing charges after allegedly killing a man with his car and leaving the scene hours after finishing his work shift.
Twenty three year-old Cody Severight was struck and killed Tuesday evening while walking in the area of Main St. and Sutherland Ave., according to the IIU, which investigates all serious incidents in Winnipeg involving police officers.
Winnipeg Police Service (WPS) members arrested off-duty officer, 34-year-old Const. Justin Holz in the area of Main St. and Red River Blvd.
WPS Police Chief Danny Smyth told reporters Holz is an eight-year member of the WPS assigned as a criminal investigator; as of Wednesday afternoon, he is on paid administrative leave.
Smyth said a breathalyser test had been performed on Holz to determine impairment shortly after the accident. He added that Holz had been on-duty earlier that day.
“I don’t know the details of this officer’s conduct after work—people go out for drinks—that’s not an uncommon thing,” he said, adding he's "very disappointed."
"My heart goes out to the family. We’re paid as police officers, I expect better decision making," Smyth said.
Holz faces allegations of impaired driving causing death and failure to stop and remain at the scene of an accident. He was released from custody on a promise to appear in court Nov. 22.
Members of the WPS Central Traffic Collision Investigation Unit are assisting the investigation under the direction of the IIU, which is also investigating a separate incident that occurred on Tuesday involving an off-duty officer and a pedestrian.
Tuesday morning, emergency personnel responded to a report of pedestrian being hit by a vehicle in the area of Portage Ave. and Sherbrook St. A 46-year-old woman was taken to hospital in unstable condition, but was later stabilized.
The IIU said the woman was walking between cars across Portage Ave. when she was hit by the officer.
Smyth said the two incidents involving the off-duty cops are “very different.”
“Traffic collisions happen every day, certainly the one that occurred earlier in the morning I’m not as concerned with,” he said.
“I’m concerned with the well-being of the person that was struck, but it doesn’t appear on the surface that anything untoward happened there.”
A spokesperson for the IIU, Barbara Czech, said charges had not been laid following that incident.
“That doesn’t mean that there won’t be charges after the IIU investigates, but not at this point.”