Every now and then a criminal misfit exposes the soft underbelly of the Canadian small “j” justice system.
A justice system that fails to protect us from the violent predatory cretins who roam our city streets looking for their next victim.
Joshua Zachary Snakeskin (26) is precisely that, a violent criminal misfit.
We came to know Snakeskin by virtue of his utterly savage attack on a seventeen (17) year old exchange student from India whose only misdeed was to come to Winnipeg to study at the University of Manitoba.
For that, he was grotesquely attacked, beaten, robbed and sent to the hospital with serious facial injuries.
The Back Story
On January 23, 2018 at approximately 10;30 a.m., the seventeen (17) year old student was standing in the bus shelter outside of Portage Place at 300 Portage Avenue when Snakeskin launched his violent attack.
What Snakeskin didn’t know, or at least, he was oblivious to the fact, that the bus shelter is a known den of iniquity that has long been outfitted with security cameras designed to act as a deterrent to overt criminality.
Police were quick to capture images of the suspect and release them to a public they would learn were only to eager to assist with the resolution of the abhorrent crime.
The problem for police was, Joshua Snakeskin wasn’t done just yet.
On January 24, 2018 at 12:30 p.m., Snakeskin attended a parking lot in the 2300 block of McPhillips Street where he damaged a window to one vehicle and then approached a second vehicle that was in the process of being parked. It was at that time he proceeded to car-jack a fifty-six (56) year old man and fled the scene.
The vehicle was subsequently abandoned in Gimli, Manitoba.
Snakeskin then upgraded his ride by stealing a pick-up truck.
At 9:13 p.m., police received reports the driver of the truck stole gas in the 5000 block of Portage Avenue.
At 9:30 p.m., Winnipeg Police patrol officers observed the stolen pick-up travelling in the area of Portage Avenue and Maryland Street and began to follow. After a short distance, police say the suspect increased his speed and fled.
Air1, the controversial police eye in the sky, arrived overhead and patrol officers disengaged.
By disengaging, police de-escalated the situation and avoided “pushing” the suspect from driving faster or increasing the risk to the public.
Air1 followed and monitored the suspect’s location while officers on the ground attempted to slow the suspect vehicle using “stop-sticks.” Police report the stop-sticks did their job but the suspect was not dissuaded and continued to evade them driving on significantly damaged tires.
Snakeskin proceeded to the area of Portage Avenue and Broadway Street where he became stuck in traffic.
Unfortunately, he wasn’t ready to quit just yet and in a desperate attempt to elude capture, drove directly at an officer who was, as police put it, “Able to jump out of harms way.”
This wasn’t the first time Snakeskin attempted to run over a police officer during a pursuit in a stolen vehicle…more on that later.
At 9:51 p.m., police were able to safely stop Snakeskin in the 1900 block of Portage Avenue after a twenty (20) minute pursuit that covered over fifteen (15) kilometres.
During the pursuit, Snakeskin was involved in three (3) minor accidents, none with reported injuries.
He was subsequently charged with;
- Assault Peace Officer with a Weapon
- Dangerous Operation of a Motor Vehicle
- Aggravated Assault
- Mischief Under $5,000
- Flight while Pursued by Police
- Theft of Motor Vehicle
- Theft Under $5,000
Snakeskin was detained in custody.
His safe arrest less a miracle than exceptional police tactics.
As one seasoned officer said, “I have to say how proud I was of the men and women on the ground. It was a beautiful thing and another example of the tremendous value of Air1.”
Police Snakebit by soft justice System
We would learn much about Joshua Snakeskin in the postscript.
Things like he was a fresh release from a Federal Prison after serving a whopping sixteen (16) months of a two-year, eighty-six day sentence after pleading guilty to a plethora of charges in Provincial Court in The Pas in September of 2016.
Those charges included;
- Dangerous Operation of a Motor Vehicle
- Possession of a Weapon
- Possess Goods Obtained by Crime
- Possession of a Firearm
- Possession of a Restricted Weapon by Crime
- Carrying a Concealed Weapon
- Theft Under $5,000 x 2
(Under statutory release Federal Offenders are released into the community after serving only 2/3’s of their sentence.)
It seems history repeats itself.
Attack on RCMP Officer
On Sunday, July 24, 2016, RCMP officers from The Pas Detachment became involved in a pursuit with a stolen vehicle from Saskatchewan. Police had information the suspect had a loaded firearm in the vehicle.
In their efforts to halt the pursuit, an RCMP officer deployed a spike-belt on a gravel road on the edge of town as the stolen vehicle raced towards him.
As he stood off the shoulder, Snakeskin drove the stolen vehicle directly towards the officer accelerating as he sped out of a turn. The officer was forced to sprint out-of-the-way as the stolen truck flew past him chewing up the very ground he just vacated.
At that point the pursuit was called off.
Snakeskin was apprehended approximately an hour later after the RCMP were able to set up a roadblock at another location. Reports indicate he got stuck in a ditch in a desperate attempt to avoid another spike-belt.
Police seized a loaded firearm from the vehicle.
Snakeskin was charged with thirteen (13) criminal offences and was wanted on nine (9) outstanding criminal arrest warrants issued in Alberta.
What he wasn’t charged with was the attempted murder of the RCMP officer.
Despite the fact ample evidence seemed to suggest he intentionally drove the stolen vehicle directly at him.
Now, no less than eighteen (18) months later, Mr. Snakeskin is apprehended after another police pursuit where information exists he intentionally drove a stolen vehicle at yet another police officer.
Once again, no charges of attempt murder when that may very well have been his true intention.
While it’s true, attempt murder is one of the most difficult charges to prove in a criminal court, the fact someone drives a five thousand (5,000) pound vehicle at a human being should be plenty evidence, in and of itself, to prove the requisite intention.
Is it reasonable to suggest the intention wasn’t to kill?
Might the prosecution in the current case consider upgrading the charges against Mr. Snakeskin armed with knowledge of the prior attack on the RCMP officer?
Might the prosecution call the RCMP officer as a witness to provide similar fact evidence to support the charge?
If not, I would hope the prosecuting attorney entertains the notion of using the facts surrounding the attack on the RCMP officer as an aggravating circumstance during sentencing should Mr. Snakeskin be convicted.
Whatever the disposition, I truly hope our broken Canadian justice system ensures Mr. Snakeskin’s next attack on a Law Enforcement Officer doesn’t occur within the next 549 days.
Because that just wouldn’t be right.
Reports indicate Snakeskin received his first Federal prison sentence in 2011 after being convicted for B&E, Possess Stolen Goods, Theft Over and Drive Over .08.
He was the subject of a Canada wide arrest warrant for parole violations at the time of this incident.