Anger and frustration boiled over at a public meeting in Shelburne Nov. 27, leading to several dozen people storming out of the local community centre with signs raised high, shouting “no justice here.”
The crowd at the Thursday afternoon meeting came to hear answers about a case where two young men were hit by a car, but received little new information from the RCMP.
Frustrations mounted quickly among the citizens at the meeting as police officers said they were unable to reveal details of the investigation to the public
“This is going to get ugly,” Jackie Race, one of the organizers of the meeting. “People are upset… people’s children were lying in the road.”
The Nov. 1 incident happened shortly after a Halloween party. A young man at the party was allegedly assaulted. A short time later, the two men eventually charged with his assault - Cade E. Benham, 19, and Steven E. Davis, 21 - were struck by a vehicle and sent to hospital with serious injuries.
Shelburne RCMP Sgt. Benjamin Parry and Staff Sgt. Kevin Surette fielded questions, but it was an uncomfortable hour for the Mounties, who were on the hot seat for much of the meeting.
Some people in the crowd say they feel police are not doing enough. Others questioned whether race played a role in why the RCMP charged the two men with assault, but not the driver of the car.
“At this time it may look like we are not doing anything,” said Parry. “But, to lay a charge, we have to satisfy the elements of the charge for the courts.”
People in attendance asked why the driver wasn’t arrested when the men were struck and why police did not give the driver a breathalyzer test, but their questions about investigation were met with answers that did not seem to satisfy those in attendance.
“You didn’t address the issue when it should have been addressed and that is the night they got hit,” one person said. “You have done nothing that night and nothing now,” said another.
“You let that driver walk away.”
Several people pressed the two RCMP officers for information about if and when charges might be laid against the driver.
“At this point we don’t have enough evidence to lay charges,” Surette said, “but the investigation is ongoing.
“It may not appear so but the case is moving forward,” said Surette. “It is far from over but we cannot discuss the specifics… you are asking good questions I am legally not allowed to answer.”
Parry said the integrity of the evidence was key to the investigation.
“We would rather it take more time and be done right,” he said after the public meeting. “We are taking it very seriously.”
He said the two men were charged in the related assault case much quicker because it was a straightforward case.
“(The collision case) may look straightforward but it is very, very complex.”
Unsatisfied, some of the crowd left to march with their placards to the town office in Shelburne, chanting “No justice here” and “run us over, it’s all right,” to passing motorists.