Stratford police sent out two still images of the vehicle taken from the store’s security camera.
Stratford police are still refusing to publicly identify the motorist charged in a deadly hit-and-run crash in a Walmart parking lot and a former Ontario ombudsman called that “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.“Nothing’s different than what has already been reported to the media about our position on releasing the information,” Foster said.Marin said that is unusual and irregular.“I think the police owe it to the community to be open and transparent. The public has a right to know and by not releasing her name it opens up a lot of speculation of preferential treatment,” said Marin, a former director of Ontario’s police watchdog, the Special Investigations Unit.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.“We’ve provided as much information about this matter as we can. We believe that we are acting in the best interests of those involved in this tragic incident,” he wrote in an email.A police spokesperson said Chief Greg Skinner was not available Friday. 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.“It’s all in the police’s hands,” he said.When asked how staff are doing in the wake of the fatal crash on the store’s property, Lomond said they are “doing OK, but that’s all I can say.”
Evelyn Sophia Harris (Handout)
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.“If the chief of police had concerns, for example, about the community’s response and a safety issue, then the chief may make the decision – for at least his or her police force – to not release the name,” he said.The woman will be in court on June 17.A funeral for Harris is scheduled for Saturday morning in Stratford.email@example.com