Former Manitoba police chief acquitted of perjury in deadly crash

WINNIPEG – A former small-town police chief in Manitoba has been acquitted on charges of obstruction of justice and perjury.

Harry Bakema was in charge of investigating a crash in East St. Paul near Winnipeg, in which an off-duty officer rear-ended a car and killed driver Crystal Taman in 2005.

Bakema’s trial was told Bakema didn’t test the officer for impairment at the scene and instead helped him walk to a police cruiser and let him rest.

Impaired driving charges were dropped against the officer.

He was given a conditional sentence of house arrest for dangerous driving causing death.

A 2008 inquiry into how the accident was handled led to Bakema’s arrest and the disbanding of the East St. Paul police service.

The Crown had suggested in closing arguments at Bakema’s trial in May 2012 that he deliberately covered up evidence to protect Derek Harvey-Zenk, the off-duty Winnipeg police officer involved in the crash that killed the 40-year-old mother of three.

The defence said there was no criminal intent. Bakema’s lawyer said that, at worst, Bakema was guilty of making unintentional errors. The lawyer also suggested several former police officers who testified at the two-week trial were either mistaken or misleading about what happened.

Harvey-Zenk had been on his way home from a night out drinking with fellow officers, but court was told that East St. Paul police failed to properly document the case.

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