A Salmon Arm police officer may faces charges in connection with the death of a Cherryville woman in the Salmon Arm Industrial Park in June.
The Independent Investigations Office (IIO), which investigates deaths or serious injuries that are potentially police related, has forwarded a report to Crown counsel regarding the car crash that killed 21-year-old Courtenay Brianne Eggen on June 21 of this year.
The IIO’s chief civilian director has the option of concluding that no officer committed an offence and will close the file with a public report, or will conclude that an officer may have committed an offence.
A news release issued Friday by the provincial government states: “Chief Civilian Director Richard Rosenthal has completed his review of the investigative file and has forwarded a report to Crown counsel… This occurs when the Chief Civilian Director considers that an officer may have committed an offence…”
According to the IIO, at 11:54 p.m. on that day, a uniformed, on-duty member of the Salmon Arm RCMP was monitoring a four-way stop sign at Auto Road and Five Corners. The officer reportedly observed a vehicle proceed through a stop sign on Auto Road without stopping. The officer began to follow the Chevrolet in an attempt to catch up and pull over the vehicle.
After a brief pursuit, states the IIO, the pursuit was ordered terminated. Shortly after, the RCMP officer reported having gone off the road near Auto Road and 50th Avenue. At the same location, the other driver lost control and slid sideways into the side of a dump truck. The female driver died at the scene.
Neither the name of the officer involved nor the charges that may be considered will be made public until Crown counsel has made a decision on whether to proceed with charges.
States the news release: “The Chief Civilian Director does not make a recommendation on if or what charges he believes Crown counsel should consider. Crown counsel maintains full jurisdiction over the charge assessment and charge approval process. In approving charges, the Criminal Justice Branch must be satisfied not only that an offence may have been committed, but that the commission of an offence can be proven in court beyond a reasonable doubt. Criminal Justice Branch policy provides that in making this assessment Crown counsel will apply a two-part test: 1. There must be a substantial likelihood of conviction based on the evidence gathered by the investigating agency. 2. A prosecution must be required in the public interest.
Under these circumstances, no public report will be issued by the IIO and no further information will be provided.”
In the industrial park the morning after the crash, the crumpled Chevrolet could be seen beside a large dump truck at the edge of the parking lot of the Country Kitchen Restaurant. On the opposite side of Auto Road, a police car sat wedged between a building and a grassy embankment. Investigators were checking tire marks where it appeared the cruiser had gone over the edge of the road and down the short slope. Two tires on the police cruiser were blown out and its trunk was damaged when it collided with the building.
The IIO had been alerted to the situation at 12:30 a.m. and dispatched investigators to the scene, including a traffic reconstructionist. This was the first time the Independent Investigations Office had been called to look into a case in Salmon Arm.