CALGARY — The families of Chris Turner, 25, and Edyta Wal, 23, have been waiting nearly nine years for some kind of justice. The pair were hit and killed by a vehicle crossing MacLeod Trail and 90 Ave. S.E. on August 25, 2012. Wal was pronounced dead in hospital. Turner died two days later.
The driver was never charged. But now three Calgary police officers who were at the scene are have been ordered to go through a disciplinary hearing for their conduct during the investigation. A date for the hearing has yet to be set.
“Mr. Wal lost his daughter, that’s a terrible tragedy and then he’s just so upset about how it was investigated,” said Tom Engel, the Wal family’s lawyer.
Constables Grant Maveal, Randall MacDonald and T.K. Rutherford are charged with neglect of duty and discreditable conduct under the Alberta Police Act.
“They neglected their duty to properly investigate this fatal collision in a number of different ways,” said Engel.
The families of the victims first filed a complaint with police in 2014. A follow up was sent in 2015. They recently received a letter from the police chief notifying them of the hearing.
According to the police file, the driver disclosed he had been drinking but his blood alcohol level was never tested.
“I think it’s shocking the investigating officers didn’t follow up on that,” said Engel.
Constable Maveal dealt with the driver immediately after the crash and traveled with him in the ambulance to hospital. According to the officer’s own notes, the driver said he consumed a “mickey” of alcohol on his own and thought he was going to jail for driving under the influence. He also indicated he was traveling at 90 km/hr in a 60 zone.
“Maveal did not administer a roadside breathalyzer or sobriety test, did not take adequate or appropriate steps to check for further signs of alcohol or drug consumption,” reads a complaint letter submitted on behalf of the families.
In a statement, Maveal’s lawyer, Cory Wilson told CTV the officer “conducted a proper investigation based on the facts known to him at the time, in accordance with the law and in consultation with a superior officer.”
“It is very concerning that the chief of police would send one of his officers to a disciplinary hearing for following the law, nearly nine years after the incident,” said Wilson.
“If the chief has a grievance, it is with those who write the laws, not with police officers who uphold them.”
The three officers involved are currently on active duty with CPS.
The Calgary Police Service said it is important that any concerns about an officer’s conduct be investigated through a fair and transparent process.
“According to the (Alberta) Police ct, serious conduct matters must be addressed through a disciplinary hearing where an independent presiding officer hears the evidence and decides both whether misconduct occurred and what discipline, if any, is warranted,” police said in a written statement.
“We recognize that this case has taken a long time to get to a hearing and know this timeline does not meet the expectations of the public or our officers.”
Police said changes have been made in the past few years to speed up internal investigations to ensure a more timely resolution.
Engel said there is some relief for Wal’s father, who lives in Toronto.
“Of course he doesn’t know what the outcome is going to be, but at least there’s going to be a disciplinary hearing,” Engel said.
A fourth officer was also named in the family’s complaint. But Dean LaGrange, who was an inspector with Calgary police at the time is now the police chief of the Camrose Police Service. CPS said it no longer has jurisdiction to pursue allegations in relation to this officer under the police act.
“I think the citizens of Camrose demand that their police commission explain this,” said Engel.