Canada

Family outraged by decision not to lay charges over 19-year-old’s death

Eric Hewer died from stab wounds from an altercation near the intersection of Metcalfe and Albert streets on July 26.

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The family of a 19-year-old who was stabbed to death in downtown Ottawa in July are enraged and disgusted by the decision to lay no charges against the teen who killed him.

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“Honestly, my faith in the Canadian justice system is completely destroyed at this point,” said Brendon Hewer, whose brother, Eric, was stabbed near the intersection of Metcalfe and Albert streets in Centretown on July 26.

Ottawa police said in a media release Wednesday that the person who stabbed Eric did so in self-defence and, as a result, no charges would be laid against them. That decision has baffled Brendon, his family and others in Sydney, N.S., Eric Hewer’s hometown.

“They’re choosing not to go ahead and press any charge whatsoever,” Brendon said, “which makes absolutely no sense whatsoever to anybody who knows the facts of this case.”

The facts of the case, according to Brendon, who has reviewed them multiple times with the lead investigator, are that Eric and a friend, also from Sydney, were driving through the area on their way to celebrate Eric’s 19th birthday. The pair were in a black Volkswagen when they got into an argument with a trio of teenage e-scooter riders.

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The altercation continued for blocks, with the e-scooter riders following Eric’s car. At one point, Eric exited the car and assaulted one of the riders, a 17-year-old, who also punched Eric. Eric returned to the car and drove off. The e-scooter riders pursued them until, at the intersection of Albert and Metcalfe, the altercation erupted again.

Eric and his friend exited their vehicle and assaulted the 17-year-old, who fell to the ground beneath a flurry of blows. As the pair from Sydney hit the 17-year-old on the ground, another one of the e-scooter riders, a 16-year-old, drew a knife, and stabbed Eric’s friend. Stabbed in the stomach, the friend collapsed and Eric turned on the teen with the knife.

“I am assuming the reason Eric engaged this person with a knife, that just stabbed somebody, was probably because he was fearing that this person was going to kill (Eric’s friend) after he stabbed him,” Brendon said. “Eric never laid a hand on this kid, this 16-year-old who killed him. He engages him because he just stabbed his friend.”

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Whatever the reason, Eric was stabbed twice, once in the stomach and once in the heart, and he had one defensive wound, Brendon said. The wounds were fatal.

“Eric had no weapons at all,” Brendon said. “I feel like an injustice has been done. I feel that the justice system is failing my brother. I think it’s disgusting, to be completely honest with you.”

Eric Hewer was from Sydney, N.S., but had moved to Ottawa for work reasons.
Eric Hewer was from Sydney, N.S., but had moved to Ottawa for work reasons. Photo by Supplied /Facebook

Brendon said the Hewer family had hired a lawyer and would try to have the case reviewed. They are expected to meet with the Crown attorneys, who ultimately made the decision not to press charges, later this month. The lead investigator on the case, who Brendon stressed had always been compassionate, spoke to him and explained why the decision was made, but he still can’t wrap his head around it.

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“It was explained that, after reviewing all the evidence, including statements and footage, they feel as if, due to the perception and size of the individuals, because this individual who did the stabbing was shorter and smaller than Eric and Cody, they feel that a jury would not convict them,” Brendon said. “That’s why they’re not proceeding with charges. They don’t feel that there’s any prospect of a conviction. That’s what the Crown and deputy Crown told the lead investigator. That’s why.”

But the decision is still puzzling to Brendon, made worse by events immediately after Eric died: The teens fled the scene. They didn’t call 911 or contact police until the next day, he said.

“Let a jury decide whether this person should be convicted of manslaughter, murder, what have you,” Brendon said.

“Everybody that day played a part, including Eric, and we’re fully aware of that and we’re not trying to say Eric was not wrong, but, leading up to the point where the knife comes out, that’s when the game gets changed.”

The lack of charges has sparked outrage in Sydney, with many of Eric’s friends expressing anger online. He was a loyal friend, they wrote, and had travelled to Ottawa for work, leaving the town where he volunteered as a firefighter and hung out with friends.

“He was a lovely kind-hearted young man,” Brendon said. “He was extremely proud to be in Ottawa, working to better his life.”

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