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A decision not to charge a police officer who killed a five-year-old boy while driving over the speed limit has exposed a lack of transparency in the way Quebeckers are informed about deaths involving police.

Justice officials in the province are under no legal obligation to explain why the Sûreté du Québec officer will not be charged after he allegedly exceeded the posted speed limit by 72 kilometres an hour while on routine business in a Montreal suburb and struck a car, killing the child in the back seat.

In other provinces, including British Columbia, Alberta and Ontario, an independent body investigates deaths, serious injuries and other high-profile cases that involve police officers. If no charges are laid, investigators give relatively detailed summaries of facts and reasons.

In Quebec, neighbouring police forces investigate such cases and provincial Crown prosecutors decide on charges. The prosecutors declined to explain their decision in this case on Wednesday. Late in the day, the prosecutors’ office said in a statement that officials will meet the child’s family in coming days and might reveal more details later.

The boy’s parents, opposition politicians, advocates for police transparency, and even the police union were united on Wednesday in calling for prosecutors or Justice Minister Stéphanie Vallée to explain the decision.

Ms. Vallée admitted prosecutors mishandled one portion of the case by sending police officers to tell the family no charges would be laid instead of doing it themselves. But she said prosecutors followed their rules and the law in arriving at the decision not to lay charges.

“The situation is somewhat unusual in that a representative of the prosecutors’ office should have accompanied the police” to inform the family, Ms. Vallée told the National Assembly on Wednesday.

Alexandre Cloutier, the Parti Québécois justice critic, asked Ms. Vallée to explain the circumstances of the crash and the rationale for the decision, as she is entitled to do under the law. She declined.

Mike Belance was driving with his five-year-old son buckled into the back seat in a residential area on Feb. 13 when an unmarked police cruiser travelling at high speed crashed into their Kia sedan.

The 29-year-old officer was driving 122 kilometres per hour in a 50-kilometre-per-hour zone, and was not responding to a call or other emergency at the time, La Presse reported on Wednesday. The Sûreté du Québec officer was on his way to relieve a surveillance team, the paper said in the report, citing confidential sources.

The provincial prosecutors’ office has refused to confirm that or provide other details.

Stephanie Thorne, the mother of the child, said she does not question the quality of the investigation conducted by Montreal police, but the family needs an explanation and an apology. Ms. Thorne said authorities seem to think the way her son died was normal.

Read More:http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/minister-raps-quebec-prosecutors-handling-of-police-crash-that-killed-child/article21651689/

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