‘Difficult days’ await family of hit-and-run victim: Taman
THE family of Cody Severight will need strength to deal with the “circus” that awaits them in the justice system, warned the husband of Crystal Taman, who died when an intoxicated police officer rear-ended her car in 2005.
Robert Taman said there will also be difficult days ahead.
Severight, 23, was killed about 8 p.m. on Tuesday while crossing Main Street in front of the Sutherland Hotel.
The vehicle didn’t stop, but off-duty Winnipeg police Const. Justin Holz was arrested shortly after. Holz is charged with impaired driving causing death and failing to stop at the scene of an accident.
“Stay vigilant in seeking justice,” would be his advice to them. “If you’re not aware of everything going on, (the police) are not going to reach out and make you aware of it. You’re going to have to go out and find it,” he said.
The Severights “are going to have to do a lot of work to get through this,” he said.
Taman travelled to the collision site Wednesday evening for a vigil to offer his condolences to Severight’s friends and family. He described it as “eerie, a deja vu feeling” when he learned about Severight’s death, then heard police make the same declarations.
“Things said up front about the investigation and justice and all those good things to the family that would make them feel good for the moment, they were not entirely accurate down the road” in his family’s experience, he said.
But Taman emphasized this is not about reliving his wife’s case.
“This isn’t the Taman case opening up again. I want the focus to remain on this family and what it’s going through.”
Taman also questions the police culture that had led to excess drinking after their shifts.
The case is being handled by the Independent Investigation Unit that Taman’s pushback against the system helped create.
Taman quit his position as a civilian board member of the Manitoba Police Commission when a police officer moved to the IIU on a secondment.
Taman said Severight’s death may be the IIU’s biggest test so far to see whether it can act independently.
“This case, for me, is the reason I was so involved, to make sure that cases were investigated properly, and there would be transparency.”
Crystal Taman was killed when an off-duty officer, returning from an all-night party with fellow officers, rammed his truck into the back of her car at a red light.
The driver, Derek Harvey-Zenk, had his most serious charges stayed and was sentenced to two years less a day to be served at home in a controversial plea bargain.