An impaired driver who narrowly missed a Mountie after his wayward ski doo crashed in front of the Tuktoyaktuk RCMP detachment was sentenced last week at a hearing that brought police “vulnerability” into focus.
“I was frozen in fear,” the now transferred RCMP Constable’s victim impact statement, read aloud in court by the Crown on June 25, stated.
On March 13, an intoxicated Kristopher Elias, 34, was observed by two off-duty officers, who were in front of the station moving a snowmobile into a garage, skidding back and forth on a road where numerous children were playing.
Heading straight toward the officers, Elias tried to correct course but crashed into a snowbank, sending his snowmobile flying through the air. It landed just metres from the Mounties. He told officers he was trying to kill himself.
The incident, according to the victim impact statement, was eye-opening for the officer, who was left “honestly scared,” by the close call.
He wrote the near miss showed him how “vulnerable we are in the community,” and that the incident forced him to be more aware when out in public. The Mountie stated he understands crimes against police aren’t taken as seriously because officers “signed up for it.”
The wreck led to Elias’ arrest, who was charged with dangerous driving and driving while impaired after he failed a breath sample.
Elias was initially charged with assaulting a peace officer with a weapon, but the charge was later stayed by the Crown, even though Elias had previously pleaded guilty to the charge. But with no way to prove he intended to hit the officer with the weapon - the snowmobile - the charge was stayed.
Emphasizing the officer’s statement, Crown prosecutor Andreas Kuntz said Elias’ driving was so reckless that it caused a stress-trained officer to feel it necessary to bring the matter to court. “That speaks to the gravity of the incident,” said Kuntz.
Elias, whose lengthy criminal record didn’t include any prior driving offences, was handed four months in jail for the dangerous driving incident by Judge Christine Gagnon.
“This is an example of where conduct crosses the line and requires strong denunciation through a sentence of imprisonment,” said Gagnon.
During the same hearing in NWT territorial court last Monday, Elias was also sentenced for a string of conditional breaches - including curfew and no contact violations - stemming from prior convictions. Sentences for the breaches, which spanned from November to February of this year, added up to a seven-month sentence for Elias in total.
Elias’ lawyer Nicola Langille noted numerous Gladue factors - considerations of Indigenous offenders’ backgrounds - at play, including her client’s struggles with alcohol abuse and tragedies he’s faced. She said Elias held no ill will against police officers and understands they’re just doing their jobs.
With credit for time already served amounting to almost six months, Elias will spend 31 more days behind bars. Following his release, he’ll be on probation for one-year and will face an 18-month driving ban.