There was stony silence followed by tears Friday as a Mountie was found not guilty of dangerous driving causing death of a man near Fort McMurray, Alta.
RCMP Const. Michelle Phillips was also found not guilty of dangerous driving causing bodily harm of another man.
Court heard that Tracy Janvier, 41, was struck by a vehicle on Aug. 21, 2016, while walking along a remote part of Highway 881 in the dark.
James Cardinal, who was a passenger of the truck that struck Janvier, got out of the vehicle and made a 911 call about the pedestrian collision.
Phillips was responding to that call in her police truck when she ran over Janvier, who was laying in the road, and also struck Cardinal’s hand.
Justice John McCarthy of Court of Queen’s Bench said he was unable to determine beyond a reasonable doubt that Phillips’ actions were a contributing cause of Janvier’s death.
“I find that the Crown has failed to establish that the accused caused Mr. Janvier’s death, either in fact or in law,” McCarthy said Friday in Fort McMurray court.
“Rather, this is one of the rarest cases where the court is unable to determine on the evidence before it, whether the deceased was in fact alive at the time of the alleged prohibited act.”
Phillips didn’t move and showed no emotion as the verdicts were read.
Janvier’s sister, Marina Nakahoo, cried and soon left the courtroom.
McCarthy said Phillips made a mistake by hitting Cardinal’s hand with her truck, but not to the degree required to have legal consequences.
“Const. Phillips’ evidence is clear that she did not see Mr. Janvier or Mr. Cardinal prior to hitting them.”
During the trial, Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Elizabeth Brooks-Lim testified that she couldn’t determine which collision caused Janvier’s internal injuries.
Cause of death was significant trauma and blood loss from impact with a motor vehicle.
Cpl. Mark Podesky, an RCMP collision reconstruction expert, said the initial collision was unavoidable because Janvier was walking in the middle of the highway in the dark.
He also testified that Phillips’ impact with Janvier was unavoidable.
The Canadian Press