The sister of a man killed in a fatal hit and run this week wants an apology from the off-duty Winnipeg police officer who has been charged in his death.
Terri Brass made the plea as a small crowd gathered Thursday night outside the Sutherland Hotel for a second vigil to mourn Cody Severight while vowing to sue police for the death.
“He should have been here and said sorry to us,” said a tearful Brass, standing only steps from where her brother was killed Tuesday.
Brass said it’s not too late for Const. Justin Holz to come forward with an apology and vowed to remain respectful if he did decide to come forward.
“I bet you he’s hurting himself right now,” she said.
Family has history of tragedy
What happened is all too familiar for Brass — a fire truck ran over her father James Glen Houle, killing him in the city’s North End in 2011. Her brother’s death has brought back memories of the fatal crash and the investigation that followed.
Reports at the time said Houle was lying on the ground and quoted police saying the driver tried to brake and didn’t know it was a person the truck hit. His family told CBC at the time they would hold no ill will against firefighters and had no idea why he was on the road.
“He thought my dad was a piece of garbage, a garbage bag on the street,” said Brass, who doesn’t believe a proper investigation was done into the death.
Karen Beaudin raised Severight from the age of nine, when he entered foster care.
She said his biological mom Julia Hunter kept in touch with young Cody, but she died in 2012.
Hunter’s mother, Gloria Lebold, told CBC this week she believes her daughter died under suspicious circumstances. Hunter was the second daughter Lebold lost.
Remembered as kind-hearted jokester
Beaudin remembered Severight as a kind-hearted jokester, who told her on Thanksgiving he had plans to go back to school to get his Grade 12 diploma.
“He was a very caring fella who would help out when he could,” Beaudin said.
She said she has faith in investigators and believes a fair investigation will be conducted despite the fact an officer has been charged.
‘We’re not going to let this one slide’
Brass and Severight’s stepmom Barbara Thompson both said they plan to sue the Winnipeg Police Service over the hit and run.
“Money isn’t going to bring my brother back, but it would be closure to our family. We let the City of Winnipeg, the fire department slide but we’re not going to let this one slide,” said Brass, vowing to show up to every one of Holz’s court dates going forward.
Winnipeg police charged Holz, an eight-year member of the force, with impaired driving causing death and failing to remain at the scene of an accident. Holz is out on bail and has been put on paid administrative leave.
His lawyer Josh Weinstein declined an interview request, but stressed his client hasn’t been found guilty of a crime.
“I can only stress at this time that [Const.] Holz has the same rights as any other person brought before the criminal justice system, most importantly at this time, the right to be presumed innocent,” Weinstein wrote in an email.