Stratford police are still refusing to publicly identify the motorist charged in a deadly hit-and-run crash in a Walmart parking lot — a decision that a former Ontario ombudsman calls “unusual” five days after the collision.
André Marin, an expert on ethics and anti-corruption, said holding back the name of a person who’s been charged goes against principles of openness and transparency.
“The police are not a law unto themselves. They have a duty to the community to release the name,” he said.
Stratford police remained mum Friday on who has been charged in the wake of the fatal crash that led to the death of a 63-year-old woman.
Gerry Foster, the city’s deputy chief, said they still won’t be releasing the name of the 30-year-old woman charged hours after Evelyn Sophia Harris died in Stratford hospital.
Marin said that is unusual and irregular.
Earlier this week, a Stratford police spokesperson said they won’t be releasing the woman’s name over concerns for her safety. Foster confirmed Friday that is still the reason, but he wouldn’t comment on if the woman has been threatened or if police are guarding her home.
Provincial court staff in Stratford said they still have no information related to the charge.
Stratford Walmart store manager Troy Lomond said Friday he is unable to comment on the incident.
Harris died Sunday shortly after being struck by a minivan in the parking lot near the cart return area. Police said the driver allegedly fled the scene, with several witnesses telling them the vehicle drove into a residential area north of the store.
Police said a 30-year-old Stratford woman turned herself in later that afternoon, but five days later she remains nameless.
Jason Voss, an experienced criminal defence lawyer and Western University professor, said it’s not common for police to withhold an accused’s person’s name, but a chief is permitted to do so under the Police Services Act.
The woman will be in court on June 17.