teen’s death was first considered a ‘tragic accident
high school recently received more shocking news: Another classmate had been criminally charged in the death.
For some, the charge of criminal negligence causing death is bewildering because the incident was initially reported as a tragic case of roughhousing among teens gone horribly awry.
Police won’t go into detail about what led to the charge, but, on its surface, the case appears to serve as a cautionary tale about how individuals may not always escape culpability when deaths occur from simple horseplay.
"Merely describing the activity as playful doesn’t settle the issue," says Archie Kaiser, a law professor at Dalhousie University.
Towering snowbanks lined the street outside Sydney Academy on the afternoon of Feb. 11, as students waited for school buses to take them home.
Somehow, Christopher Chafe, a well liked 18 year old student with a passion for riding all terrain vehicles and watching NASCAR races, landed in the path of one of those buses and was run over.
Initial reports suggested the death was the result of a group of students horsing around. "That’s what it seems to be, students initially carrying on back and forth with one another," Ken O’Neill, a staff sergeant with the Cape Breton Regional Police, told the Chronicle Herald in the immediate aftermath.
"Coming out of the gate on this, initially, it looks
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One week later, as Mr. Chafe was remembered at a memorial service for his love of
Michael Kors outlet hunting partridge and rabbits and for his obsession with soda or "Jesus juice," friends continued to chalk up the death to a tragic accident, the Chronicle Herald reported.
But then two days later, police announced that they had charged a 15 year old student from the same school with criminal negligence causing death. According to documents filed in provincial court, police believe Mr. Chafe was pushed into the path of the bus, leading to his death.
Police spokeswoman Desiree Vassallo was not able to elaborate Tuesday on what investigators learned, other than to say that
cheap Michael Kors handbags outlet "through subsequent investigation, which did include witness statements, police eventually
Michael Kors handbags outlet laid a charge ."
Such a charge is filed when police believe a "person’s actions or inactions
fake Michael kors handbags outlet caused the death of another person," she said.
Prof. Kaiser said unlike other criminal charges, where the Crown must prove that an accused person knew what he was doing was reckless or that he was willfully
cheap Michael Kors blind to the consequences, a charge of criminal negligence has a different threshold.
"We’re not concerned with what you actually thought, so much as what you should have thought if you had been somebody who was proceeding reasonably," he said.
"The question is: How would a reasonable person have behaved in those circumstances? Did the accused behave in a manner that was a marked and substantial departure from the standard of that reasonable person?"
‘The question is: How would a reasonable person have behaved in those circumstances?’
A charge of criminal
replica Michael Kors handbags negligence causing death is very similar to manslaughter and "tends to be laid in cases where it is accepted that everything was accidental," such as in driving collisions, said Jonathan Dawe, a Toronto criminal defence lawyer.
In addition to looking at the accused’s behaviour, police in the Nova Scotia case may also have considered the setting where the death took place reportedly near a tall, icy snowbank, where the risks were elevated, Mr. Dawe said.
A defence lawyer might try to argue that the student’s behaviour amounted to carelessness but not to the extent that it was a marked departure from how a reasonable person would have acted under the same circumstances, the experts said.
Neither the families of Mr. Chafe nor the accused, who cannot be named, could be reached for comment on Tuesday. But some students at the school have questioned why charges needed to be laid.
"It was an accident and he has to live with it, but why charge him? It’s ridiculous," one student told CTV News.
Grade 11 student Colin Power told CBC News that "punishing him more for what he’s already feeling probably doesn’t help the situation."
Meanwhile, there has been an outpouring of condolences on social media for Mr. Chafe’s parents, Noel Chafe and Christina Burneau, his sister, Susanna, and other family members.
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