Police officer who fatally struck Irishman, 29, in Canada will not face charges after watchdog clears her of any wrongdoing
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Police officer who fatally struck Irishman, 29, in Canada will not face charges after watchdog clears her of any wrongdoing

A CANADIAN police officer who knocked down an Irishman who later died from his injuries will not face charges after being cleared of any wrongdoing by a police watchdog.

Brendan Keogh, 29, was struck by an unmarked police vehicle in Squamish, British Columbia near Vancouver on March 13 last year.

Mr Keogh, who was originally from Mullinalaghta in Co. Longford, was cared for at Vancouver General Hospital in the wake of the incident before being transported to Mater Hospital in Dublin last summer.

Tragically, he never regained consciousness and passed away from his injuries on August 13.

In a report published this week, the Independent Investigations Office (IIO) of British Columbia said it would not be recommending charges against the unnamed female Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) officer involved.

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Ronald MacDonald, chief civilian director of the IIO, said: "The evidence collected does not provide grounds to consider any charges against any officer.

"I do not consider that an officer may have committed an offence under any enactment and therefore the matter will not be referred to Crown counsel for consideration of charges."

Tragic accident

Mr Keogh had been working at the Howe Sound Inn & Brewing Company in Squamish prior to the collision, which occurred exactly 12 months to the day after he moved to Canada.

In their report, the IIO found the officer driving the unmarked Lower Mainland Integrated Police Dog Services vehicle which struck the Irishman was off-duty at the time.

It is thought that Mr Keogh attempted to cross the intersection of Highway 99 and Garibaldi Way against the traffic signal at approximately 10.30pm as the police vehicle approached.

Explaining their decision, the IIO said the officer was driving in the slow lane under the posted speed limit when she entered and went through the intersection on a green light, "when it was reasonable to expect the intersection would be clear of pedestrians".

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The officer hit the brakes before crashing into Mr Keogh, the police oversight agency added.

"There is nothing in the evidence collected that suggests [the officer] was driving in a manner that would appear to a reasonable person to be way dangerous or without proper care and attention," the IIO concluded.

"To the contrary, all the evidence shows she was driving as a reasonable driver would."

Mr MacDonald confirmed that the "affected person" (AP) Mr Keogh had been sober at the time, but his vision may have been impaired by adverse weather conditions that night.

"AP made a tragic error when he crossed the highway, against the traffic signal, on a dark and rainy night, in dark clothing," wrote MacDonald.

"This placed him in front of [the officer’s] vehicle. The collision was unfortunately unavoidable."

As part of their investigation, the IIO took statements from 15 civilian witnesses, four police officers and analysed video footage of the accident from a nearby business.

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Family respond

Mr Keogh's family have slammed the IIO's report as "meaningless", saying they will never know the full truth about what happened to their beloved son and brother.

In a statement to Independent.ie, his devastated parents Marian and Kevin and sisters Niamh and Aine said: "We have received the report from the Investigators in Canada in relation to the accident that led to the passing of our dear son Brendan.

"The Authorities there have decided that they will not recommend that anyone is referred for further investigation for prosecution arising from these tragic events.

"The Police Officer whose vehicle drove into our son on that dark and wet night in British Colombia has chosen not to make any statement to the authorities about the tragic events.

"That is her right. Because she has exercised that right, we will never fully know what happened as Brendan is no longer with us and therefore the two parties central to the incident have not made statements, Brendan because he could not and the Officer concerned because she chose not to.

"The report in so far as it attributed any blame to Brendan is meaningless to us as the two central parties have not been heard and in view of the decision not to refer for prosecution, there will now be no trial or hearing of the issues".

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The Keogh family also paid tribute to Brendan and reflected on how his death has affected them.

"Brendan just turned 29 when he died. He was a wonderful brother to his two sisters who cherished him," they added.

"He is a tremendous loss to his family who were all so close to one another. He was a kind young man to all and full of life," the family's statement said.

"He had many dreams and ambitions which he hoped to follow. He will be missed by all his family and his close network of friends.

"We as a family feel very proud of Brendan and everything he achieved in his short life."