Tag Archives: Cody Severight

Winnipeg Police Officer Charged After Pedestrian Dies in Hit-and-Run

Const. Justin Holz, charged after hit-and-run killed Cody Severight 

Winnipeg’s police chief says off-duty officers have the same right as anyone else to socialize after work, sometimes with alcohol.

But Chief Danny Smyth says like anyone else, if an officer has too much to drink and gets behind the wheel of a car, he or she has crossed a line.

Smyth faced questions at a news conference Friday about whether there is a culture among police officers of going for an after-drink work.

One off-duty officer was charged this week with impaired driving causing death and failing to stop at the scene of an accident after a fatal hit-and-run that killed pedestrian Cody Severight, 23.

Smyth said the investigation being carried out by Manitoba’s Independent Investigations Unit could result in further charges against Const. Justin Holz, 34, and also said there will be an internal review that won’t be made public.

Severight’s aunt, Nancy Gabriel, has expressed concern that the person responsible for her nephew’s death “doesn’t get away with it,” adding her family just wants justice.

Smyth noted he does not have to wait for the criminal case to be resolved.

“If I consider their conduct to be so egregious that they can’t continue as a police member, my recommendation would be to dismiss,” Smyth said.

Robert Taman helped establish the IIU while serving on the Manitoba Police Commission after his wife was killed in a collision with an off-duty officer who had been at a party a short time before. He said he knows the heartbreak of the Severight family all too well.

“I would hope that the IIU will investigate it fully and they’ll be transparent,” Taman told CTV Winnipeg. “And that the family will be satisfied in the end with the investigation.”

Taman has long called for tougher penalties for drunk drivers and spoken out against the behaviour of police who drink and then get in their vehicles.

However, Smyth said he sees impaired driving as more of “a problem in our society in general.”

“We see people that get killed in car accidents and with impaired driving. Our officers are part of the community too; we’re not immune from those problems.”

Smyth said when it comes to dealing internally with problem drinking among officers, discipline wouldn’t be his first approach.

“Like anything in our society, when we become aware that somebody might be struggling with a problem, my first instinct is to try to help them,” he said, adding that officers have access to resources for help.

“If they get involved in conduct that involves criminal conduct, that really limits what I can do.”

The allegations against Holz have not been proven in court. He was released on a promise to appear, and will make his first court appearance on Nov. 22.

He was also placed on administrative leave with pay.

(CTV Winnipeg)

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Winnipeg Cop Arrested in Fatal Hit-and-Run Believed to Have Been Impaired

A stretch of northbound Main Street is blocked on Wednesday morning as police investigate Tuesday night’s fatal pedestrian crash. (Meaghan Ketcheson/CBC)

Family of Cody Severight holding vigil at Main and Sutherland on Wednesday afternoon

An off-duty Winnipeg police officer who was arrested after 23-year-old Cody Severight was hit and killed by a vehicle on Tuesday was allegedly impaired.

The officer drove away from the scene and was later located more than seven kilometres away, says a news release from the Independent Investigation Unit of Manitoba.

“The officer was arrested on allegations of impaired driving causing death and failure to stop and remain at the scene of an accident,” the news release says.

He has been released from custody on a promise to appear in court on Nov. 22.

The crash happened around 8 p.m. Tuesday near the corner of Main Street and Sutherland Avenue but the Winnipeg Police Service has said little about it, other than that an officer was arrested.

A police news conference to provide more details is set for 2 p.m. Wednesday.

The crash happened around 8 p.m. Tuesday near the corner of Main Street and Sutherland Avenue but the Winnipeg Police Service has said little about it, other than that an officer was arrested.

A police news conference to provide more details is set for 2 p.m. Wednesday.

Cody Severight, 23, died Tuesday night after he was hit by a car. (Cody Severight/Facebook)

The IIU, which looks into all serious incidents involving police officers in Manitoba, whether occurring on or off duty, is leading the investigation of the case.

“Since this is an ongoing matter, no further details about the incident or the investigation is being provided,” the release says.

The northbound lanes of Main Street remain blocked from Higgins Avenue to Jarvis Avenue with the focus of the investigation close to the Sutherland Hotel, which is surrounded by yellow police tape.

The officer was arrested at Main Street and Red River Boulevard, not far from the city’s northern limit.

Family holds vigil

Severight family is gathering for a vigil at the intersection where he died to light candles, grieve and wait for more answers about what happened.

The vigil is planned for 1 p.m. close to where investigators are still going over the scene.

“We just want to be together for each other at that place,” said Severight’s grandmother Gloria Lebold, who described the 23-year-old as someone who made everyone laugh.

“He was a sweet little guy, always joking around, just being a little fun person.”

Police evidence tags line the northbound lanes of Main Street. (Jeff Stapleton/CBC)

A shoe lies on Main Street, surrounded by evidence tags, at the scene of a fatal pedestrian crash. (Jeff Stapleton/CBC)

Severight had just rented his first apartment on nearby Annabella Street and recently started classes at the Winnipeg Adult Education Centre to obtain his Grade 12.

He and his girlfriend were expecting a baby soon.

“He was excited about all of that,” said Cindy Head, Severight’s aunt.

Now, his family is waiting for his body to be released so they can plan a funeral and then bury the young man beside his mom on Waywayseecappo First Nation, about 280 kilometres northwest of Winnipeg.

“My kids are taking it hard right now. They can’t believe it really was him,” Head said as her voice trailed into a weep.

“It’s hard for me, too. I’m trying to get through this.”

The IIU is asking witnesses and anyone else with information or video footage to contact the agency toll-free at 1-844-667-6060.

By Darren Bernhardt, CBC News

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