Cape Breton police officer in charge the night Joneil Hanna died grilled at review board hearing
SYDNEY, N.S. -- The police officer in charge the night a Cape Breton teenager was killed after leaving a graduation party was grilled Wednesday before a police review board.
The hearing is investigating the actions of police that night and once again there were a lot of questions about underage drinking.
The questions Wednesday surrounded why no arrests were made for underage drinking the night of the graduation party in June 2018, and why the driver of the vehicle that hit Joneil Hanna was allowed to leave the scene.
Laura McCarthy, the lawyer for Hanna's father, began the day questioning Const. Colin Wintermans as to whether he noticed underage drinkers. He wasn't sure, but said it was obvious there was. He said he wasn’t directed to make any arrests.
McCarthy asked the officer about a number of incidents at the party that night, but Wintermans couldn’t recall a lot of what went on.
The 17-year-old Hanna was struck and killed by a vehicle after leaving the party in June 2018.
Sgt. Erin Donovan was the officer in charge the night Hanna died. She told the board she was aware of a graduation party happening that evening, and made all of her officers aware and directed resources to Upper Leitches Creek, N.S.
When Donovan arrived at the party that night, she said she told the property owners to turn the music off and verbally told people the party was over.
Donovan said she observed people drinking liquor and told them to dump it out.
Her concern was the rural location, unknown terrain, and having people run out onto the highway.
Later, Donovan was questioned by the defence lawyer why the driver that struck Hanna was allowed to leave the scene. Donovan said Hayden Laffin was emotionally distraught and didn’t feel he was in the right state of mind to give a statement.
Demetri Kachafanas, the lawyer for the Cape Breton Regional Municipality, argued it would be unreasonable to make arrests for underage drinking because there were hundreds in the area, and police had to focus on keeping everyone safe.
He also argued it is normal protocol for statements from witnesses to be given at a later date.
The two-week hearing was scheduled after Hanna's father filed a complaint about the Cape Breton Regional Police’s handling of the investigation.
Testimony will continue Thursday.