N.S. police review board dismisses hearing of police wrongdoing in Joneil Hanna's death

The Nova Scotia Police Review Board has cleared police of any wrongdoing in the investigation of the death of Joneil Hannah.

Joneil, 17, was struck and killed on a highway after leaving a graduation party in the community of Leitches Creek on June 10, 2018.

His family questions the actions of the Cape Breton Regional Police, but their appeal has been dismissed.

Joneil's mother, Jenn Hanna, says although she was hoping for a different outcome on Wednesday, she wasn't surprised.

"It was a complaint against the police and I feel like they all work together," said Hanna. "I don't think anything will ever be done with situations like that."

In the 15-page decision, the police board says they were satisfied with the officer's decision that the driver of the vehicle that hit Joneil Hanna wasn’t intoxicated.

Since that time, Joneil's family has looked for answers surrounding his death.

"When you lose your child, that's the worst part," explained Hanna. "Even if we got what we want, we're still not going to get him back."

Joneil Hanna’s mother, Jenn says she is disappointed but not surprised by today’s decision by the Police Review Board. Full story with reaction from the family tonight at 6pm. @CTVAtlantic pic.twitter.com/tZzIEjkT3B

— Kyle Moore (@KyleMooreCTV) April 7, 2021

Also in the decision, the three-member panel said that "false and speculative material," including posts on social media, complicated the investigation and "no doubt magnified the pain and distress of Joneil's family and friends."

"I feel like they didn't take people's statements seriously. They dismissed a lot," said Hanna.

The lawyer representing the Hanna family had focused on underage drinking the night of the graduation party, and why police let Hayden Laffin, the driver of the vehicle that struck Joneil Hanna, go home without taking a statement.

"One concern was Laffin was speaking with officers, but he was released without consulting with other officers about whether he should or shouldn't be released," lawyer Laura McCarthy said last September.

In an email from the Cape Breton Regional Police they say this was an "unfortunate accident, and that the Cape Breton Regional Police Service acted appropriately in our response to the initial incident, with our actions at the scene and during all follow-up investigation."

Laffin was originally charged with obstruction of justice for lying to police, but that charge was eventually dropped by the Crown.

Police have said Laffin showed no signs of impairment.

The review was requested by Hanna’s father and was held in Sydney last September.