Alberta Mountie found not guilty of dangerous driving after running over pedestrian

An RCMP officer who ran over the man she was rushing to help has been found not guilty of dangerous driving causing death and dangerous driving causing bodily harm

On Friday in the Court of Queen’s Bench in Fort McMurray, Justice John McCarthy also said there isn’t enough evidence to prove Const. Michelle Phillips caused the pedestrian’s death.

“While in my view she erred, it was not to the degree required to attract penal consequences,” said McCarthy in his decision.

The court case stems from an incident in August 2016.

Tracy Janvier, 41, was walking down Highway 881 south of Anzac, Alta at night and was hit by a car.  

After getting a call from dispatch, Phillips raced over to help Janvier, driving at about 155 kilometres per hour. It was dark and there were no houses or street lights around.

According to the agreed statement of facts, Phillips drove up to a scene with multiple vehicles pulled over on the side of the road, but it was about 20 kilometres away from where the dispatcher told her the downed pedestrian was.

She testified that she thought the vehicles were pulled over because they saw the police sirens.

Phillips made no attempt to stop or swerve — not realizing the two men were in the middle of the road until milliseconds before she hit them, she said during the trial.

His loss is obviously deeply felt by his family, as was witnessed by their continual presence in the courtroom.– Justice J.T. McCarthy

Janvier died and the other man had injuries on his left hand.

The judge said that overall Phillips had been driving reasonably. But a “reasonable driver would have observed [the pedestrians] earlier than Const. Phillips did.”

Phillips sat quietly while McCarthy read his decision.

Across the courtroom, Janvier’s family was visibly distressed.

His sister cried audibly while the judge declared Phillips not guilty on both charges.

McCarthy addressed the family, offering his condolences.

“His loss is obviously deeply felt by his family, as was witnessed by their continual presence in the courtroom.”

McCarthy said he was unable to determine that Phillips’ caused Janvier’s death.

“I cannot conclude that the second collision significantly contributed to his death,” he said. 

Phillips declined to comment.

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