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Based on facts either observed and verified firsthand by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

Police announce fines—but no criminal charges—in December hit-and-run caught on video

A lawyer tells us the bar for criminal charges is difficult to meet, even with video evidence

Policing
News
Based on facts either observed and verified firsthand by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

Police announce fines—but no criminal charges—in December hit-and-run caught on video

A lawyer tells us the bar for criminal charges is difficult to meet, even with video evidence

Screenshot: VicPD via Twitter
Screenshot: VicPD via Twitter
Policing
News
Based on facts either observed and verified firsthand by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

Police announce fines—but no criminal charges—in December hit-and-run caught on video

A lawyer tells us the bar for criminal charges is difficult to meet, even with video evidence

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Police announce fines—but no criminal charges—in December hit-and-run caught on video
Screenshot: VicPD via Twitter

Kimberlyn Slattery was on her way to work on a rare snowy morning at the end of December. Crossing Blanshard Street where it meets Bay, she saw a car speeding towards her. 

“I noticed it and thought, ‘It doesn’t look like it’s slowing down,’” she told Capital Daily. “And then my next thought was just, like, ‘Maybe I should get out of the way.’ And then by the time I had that thought, I felt the impact.”

Dashcam video, recorded by a member of the public and released by VicPD, shows Slattery being launched into the air as the snow-covered MINI barrels through the intersection, accelerating away from the scene and nearly hitting another car as the driver flees the scene. Slattery crawls away, to the sidewalk, where onlookers rush to help her.

A day later, VicPD said a vehicle had been seized; that was the last public statement on the incident until Friday afternoon, when police revealed they had charged the driver with four Motor Vehicle Act and Motor Vehicle Act Regulations charges: Drive without Due Care and Attention; Fail to Remain At Scene of Collision; Drive while View Obstructed; and Illegible Plate.

After giving her original statement the same day as the collision, Slattery estimates it wasn’t until a month and a half later that the police contacted her again with an update. 

During that time, she was barely able to leave her house. She had a compression fracture in part of her spine, resulting in a 20% loss of height in the vertebrae, making it very painful to move. It wasn’t until just a month ago that she was able to return to work full-time.

“I’m just now beginning to do all the things that I used to do,” she said. “And there was a lot of financial anxiety, not knowing if I was going to be able to get all the things that I needed.”

ICBC has paid for most of Slattery’s physio appointments and medical expenses, as well as some of her lost income. The rest of her lost wages, she received through employment insurance, but she didn’t get the full payments until two weeks ago. 

The collision has also taken a toll on her mentally, and she says she lost a bit of faith in humanity. She was shocked that someone could hit her and then just drive away without seeing if she was OK. 

But, she says she was lucky to have been supported by friends and family throughout her recovery. And, after Telus found out she had lost her phone in the crash, she received a new cell phone from the company.

On Friday afternoon, nearly five months after the hit-and-run, the police department published its first press release regarding the incident since the days immediately following it.

“A Victoria driver faces several Motor Vehicle Act charges with significant fines and demerit points after an investigation into a December 30, 2021 hit and run,” the press release reads, listing the four charges, a $1,075 fine, and eight demerits.

No criminal charges are listed. 

Slattery said the police told her they were not going to press charges because they could not prove beyond a reasonable doubt (the standard for a criminal conviction) that the owner of the vehicle was the person behind the wheel. 

VicPD did not immediately respond to a request for clarification on why no criminal charges have been laid, or whether any can be expected, but lawyer Michael Mulligan says the standard for criminal charges in a case like this is a high bar for investigators to meet.

“While the video shows what seems to be a pretty clear failure to stop for an accident—you would have expected somebody to notice if they were driving—it offers no evidence about who was driving the car,” he explains. “And so the threshold for the police to arrest somebody would be reasonable grounds to believe that some particular person had committed the offence.”

Police in Vancouver used cell phone data in a recent hit-and-run prosecution to prove that a particular person was behind the wheel of a car that had smashed up parked cars, before being reported stolen. But obtaining evidence like that, Mulligan explains, is a hurdle of its own.

“Police don't have a generalized authority to track people or their location or something, thankfully,” he says. “So if the police wanted to seize somebody's cell phone, for example, to look for data that was on the phone, the police would need to persuade a judge or a justice of the peace that there are reasonable grounds to believe they're going to be evidence of the offence.”

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VicPD said in the press release that it had “applied for judicial authorization to enable access to key investigative information.” It did not say whether investigators had received that authorization—or elaborate on the nature of the “key investigative information” they were looking to access.

The lack of criminal charges, for Slattery, means that the modest compensation she’s received for ICBC to cover her medical expenses is the sum of what she can expect to receive; without a criminal conviction, she can’t sue the driver directly.

“I've spoken to a few law offices, and they've all said the same thing: that like with these new laws, the no fault laws, you can't sue ICBC now—and I can't sue him unless he was convicted of something. And he's not going to be, so,” she trails off.

Slattery doesn’t have a car, so she walks and takes transit to get around. In the months following the crash, she has seen multiple close calls between pedestrians and vehicles—sometimes due to a vehicle not stopping, sometimes due to a pedestrian not paying attention. 

She was following all the rules of the road that day on her way to work, the video shows, but she still got hit. Slattery has bought herself a toque with an LED light to make herself more visible—just in case. 

This story will be updated if VicPD responds to our requests for clarification. 

-With files from Jimmy Thomson

contact@capitaldaily.ca

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