Officer had no reason to be speeding when he killed senior, fatality inquiry told

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Officer had no reason to be speeding when he killed senior, fatality inquiry told

An Edmonton police officer had no reason to be speeding when he crashed into a car five years ago, killing the 84-year-old driver, a senior officer testified at a fatality inquiry Tuesday.

"There was not a reason for him to be driving at that speed," Supt. Brad Doucette told the provincial court judge.

 Const. Chris Luimes was driving an unmarked police car at nearly 120 kilometres an hour to a non-emergency call on March 8, 2012.

The speed limit on the road was 50 km/h.

His car slammed into a Volkswagen Jetta driven by Annie Walden which was southbound on 75th Street and turning onto 76th Avenue.

Walden died at the scene.

Doucette testified that since the crash, the Edmonton Police Service has made "great strides" in improving training and vehicle safety, calling it "more robust than it once was."

Doucette added that all recruits take 60 hours of operational training and are told they have to "drive within their capabilities."

"The expectation is to drive safely at all times," Doucette said. 

"We're in a fishbowl when we're driving — people have expectations."

Officers are now held accountable for speeding on duty, he said.

"Any time we exceed the speed limit at all, we have to justify the reason for doing so."

If an officer speeds repeatedly, there are consequences, including a professional standards branch investigation, he said.

"All of this is tracked on a database. It's pretty evident when there's a problem," said Doucette.

Since the changes were introduced, the police service has seen "a shift in the driving culture."

"There's been massive reductions across the board in the number of violations that we receive," he said.

Doucette and the officer who investigated the crash for the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team were the only two witnesses to testify at the inquiry, which was scheduled for two days, but was completed in less than three hours. 

The judge will now make recommendations, if any, that may prevent similar incidents from happening.  

Luimes was charged with dangerous driving, but a judge ruled there was not enough evidence to convict him.

Last week at a police disciplinary hearing, Luimes was found guilty of discreditable conduct in the incident.

He was ordered to participate in a video that will be part of mandatory police training. 

Luimes, who suffered serious injuries that have left him permanently disabled, no longer works on the street.