RCMP Const. Bonnie Sauve fought back tears as she recalled the afternoon of Jan. 27, 2014 – the day James Burton Weaver rammed his SUV into her police cruiser and forever changed her life.
Reading a victim impact statement in Surrey Provincial Court Friday morning (Feb. 12), Sauve said she had waited a long time to express how she has felt since the crash.
“When he deliberately struck me… I thought I was going to die and all I could think of was whether I was going to see my children and husband again,” she wept. “I wondered if I would be able to say ‘I love you’ one last time to my kids. He intentionally tried to hurt or even kill me that day.”
Friday was to be the start of a sentencing hearing for Weaver, who was found guilty last November of two counts each of assault with a weapon and criminal negligence causing bodily harm. However, the full hearing could not proceed due to the recent discovery by lawyers that Weaver is aboriginal. A special pre-sentence report will now be prepared investigating Weaver’s history and circumstances. It’s estimated it will take eight to 10 weeks to prepare.
Normally victim impact statements would come after Crown’s sentencing arguments, but were delivered prior because Sauve had travelled from Alberta, where she now lives and works as an RCMP officer.
It was just over two years ago that Weaver, 48, drove his Ford Explorer through the Newton RCMP detachment parking lot near 72 Avenue and 137 Street, plowing into a parked police car, which was pushed into a second cruiser.
Sauve was in the driver’s seat of one of the vehicles, while her partner, Const. Erik McFarlane, was outside the car.
She said she heard a squeal before Weaver’s truck hit her car, pushing it toward the parking stall next to her, where McFarlane was standing.
McFarlane, she said, was able to somehow “slide out” and call for help. He escaped with a leg injury, while Sauve suffered severe bruising and a shoulder tear that is still healing.
Aside from the physical injuries, Sauve said there has been lasting psychological and emotional harm. She said she lives with fear, hyper-vigilance, anger, anxiety, sadness and stress that impacts her daily.
“While I stand before this court alive, I struggle with feeling safe at work, and worrying about the next person trying to hurt or kill me,” Sauve said, her father listening from the court gallery.
McFarlane wasn’t in court Friday, but had a victim impact statement read on his behalf.
He said he missed multiple training opportunities and no longer leads the active lifestyle he once did due to the “lifelong injuries” and pain resulting from the crash.
“I’ve had numerous flashbacks about the incident and have a fear of cars that I never had before,” wrote McFarlane, adding it has affected him professionally, emotionally and financially.
“I fear the accused will again commit an act of violence randomly on the police and/or the public,” he said.
Sauve spoke directly to Weaver in court, telling him he needs to earn back his freedom and urging him to become a better person.
But she said his criminal actions would not deter her or other police officers from doing their jobs.
“We will move on with serving our community and keeping it safe,” Sauve said.
Weaver’s next court date is Feb. 19, to fix a date for sentencing.