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Judge acquits driver who struck and killed RCMP officer on bicycle on Alberta highway

Edson RCMP Const. Austin MacDougall, pictured in this April 2016 photo from The Weekly Anchor newspaper, was killed in a collision with a vehicle while cycling on Wednesday, July 5, 2017. Courtesy: The Weekly Anchor

An Alberta judge has found a driver not guilty of charges relating to the death of an off-duty Mountie on a bicycle.

Const. Austin MacDougall, an avid cyclist, was on a racing bike along Highway 16 west of Edson on the night of July 5, 2017, when a pickup truck swerved onto the shoulder and struck him.

The officer was thrown into a ditch and died immediately.

Dustin Lyle Jensen, the driver of the truck, admitted to killing the officer but pleaded not guilty to charges of dangerous driving causing death and failing to provide a sample after a fatal accident.

Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Brian Burrows acquitted Jensen on both counts.

READ MORE: Man charged after Edson RCMP constable killed in collision while cycling

The judge ruled there was reasonable doubt about whether an officer smelled alcohol on Jensen’s breath after the accident, and that sun and shadows made it difficult for the driver to see the cyclist.

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“There is no basis for concluding that a reasonable person would have seen that Cst. MacDougall was on the shoulder and taken special care to avoid the risk of collision by not inadvertently swerving onto the shoulder,” Burrows wrote in a decision released Wednesday.

“In my view, it has not been proved beyond a reasonable doubt that this tragic collision resulted from a marked departure by Mr. Jensen from the standard of care expected of a reasonable person.”