A former Prince George woman has been ordered to go through a victim-offender reconciliation hearing after she nearly ran over one RCMP officer and forced another officer to shoot out the back window of her car.
Holly Elizabeth McAuley, 20, had been willing to apologize to the member she nearly hit during the harrowing Oct. 28, 2012 incident at the Lombardy Mobile Home Park but provincial court judge Michael Brecknell said she must address both officers.
"It's well noted that when people in the course of their duties, whether they be soldiers or police officers, are called upon to discharge their weapons, that's a traumatic event for them," Brecknell said during a sentencing hearing Friday at the Prince George courthouse.
If the two choose not to go ahead with the hearing, where the perpetrator meets face-to-face with the victims to hear about the consequences of the offence and work out some form of restitution, McAuley must write letters of apology to both.
As it stands, McAuley, who was also sentenced to a nine-month conditional sentence and prohibited from driving for a further year, is lucky to be alive based on the evidence presented.
Police had been looking for Chad Patrick Poitras, a man with an extensive record of drug-related convictions who was wanted in relation to the theft of two pickup trucks that led to a police pursuit, when he was seen in the Pontiac Grand Am McAuley was driving.
The car was then tracked to the mobile home park, near the corner of Strathcona and Norwood in the VLA, where McAuley was found waiting in the car while Poitras was inside a home. When Poitras left the home and got back into the car, the two constables made their move - one approaching either side of the car.
But then Poitras yelled "back up, back up" and McAuley did so, running into a snow bank. And when Poitras yelled "go, go," she took off going forward, forcing one of the members to leap out of the way while the other fired off a single shot that shattered the car's back window.
More RCMP were called in and McAuley was arrested a short time later while Poitras was apprehended a few days later. McAuley suffered a scrape to her knee from the deflected bullet but the outcome could have been much worse.
The constable who fired the shot "said quite emphatically, 'I was shooting directly at the back of the driver's head to disable the threat,'" Crown prosecutor Siobhan Greenfield told the court.
Brecknell told McAuley he took that to mean the constable had intended to kill her.
"He wasn't trying to put out your headlights or your tires," Brecknell said. "He felt his partner was going to be killed if he didn't do something and he discharged his weapon - and I could use nice police language to make it sound softer - but the fact is he was shooting at your head."
McAuley later admitted she knew it was police officers who were trying to stop her.
They were in an unmarked vehicle but the red and white lights were flashing when they first tried to arrest the two and their guns were drawn. Although they were not in the standard RCMP field uniform, RCMP was written in gold letters along the arms of their sleeves and they were wearing ballistic vests.
Prior to sentencing, the court heard that McAuley has mental health issues and has been diagnosed with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and obsessive compulsive disorder. After completing high school, McAuley began to party with a group of friends and the situation had escalated to the point where she had been on a two-week methamphetamine binge.
Other than by name and reputation, she did not know who Poitras was until meeting him through a friend on the day in question and for reasons not made clear agreed to give him a ride. She was in a "state of panic" with Poitras "yelling in her ear" as police moved in, the court was told.
McAuley has no previous criminal record and has since moved to another community where she has been holding down a steady job, has been taking counselling for her mental health issues and has living up to her bail conditions, the court heard.
She has also been completely drug and alcohol free and has not been behind the wheel of a vehicle since that day, the court was told.
In issuing the sentence, which McAuley will serve in her home with a curfew and other conditions, Brecknell found she did not intend to run down the constable but also scolded her for taking the actions she did.
"What happened on that day was first of all, frightening for everybody, including you and the police officers, and secondly, you could have put lots of people in danger," Brecknell told her.
Following the incident, the Independent Investigations Office of B.C. (IIO), which investigates police-involved deaths, was consulted, but did not take jurisdiction. Prince George RCMP did ask a third party to review the events to see if proper procedure was followed.
In January, Poitras was sentenced to 360 days in jail less 82 days time served in custody after pleading guilty to some unrelated charges. He remains behind bars and is scheduled to make a first appearance this month on a trafficking charge from a March 2011 incident.
Also this month, a trial confirmation hearing is scheduled for Jonathan Kyle Relkey on the truck theft incident.