SIU Director’s Report - Case # 21-OVD-042


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Mandate of the SIU

The Special Investigations Unit is a civilian law enforcement agency that investigates incidents involving an official where there has been death, serious injury, the discharge of a firearm at a person or an allegation of sexual assault. Under the Special Investigations Unit Act, 2019 (SIU Act), officials are defined as police officers, special constables of the Niagara Parks Commission and peace officers under the Legislative Assembly Act. The SIU’s jurisdiction covers more than 50 municipal, regional and provincial police services across Ontario.

Under the SIU Act, the Director of the SIU must determine based on the evidence gathered in an investigation whether there are reasonable grounds to believe that a criminal offence was committed. If such grounds exist, the Director has the authority to lay a criminal charge against the official. Alternatively, in cases where no reasonable grounds exist, the Director cannot lay charges. Where no charges are laid, a report of the investigation is prepared and released publicly, except in the case of reports dealing with allegations of sexual assault, in which case the SIU Director may consult with the affected person and exercise a discretion to not publicly release the report having regard to the affected person’s privacy interests.

Information Restrictions

Special Investigations Unit Act, 2019

Pursuant to section 34, certain information may not be included in this report. This information may include, but is not limited to, the following: 
  • The name of, and any information identifying, a subject official, witness official, civilian witness or affected person. 
  • Information that may result in the identity of a person who reported that they were sexually assaulted being revealed in connection with the sexual assault. 
  • Information that, in the opinion of the SIU Director, could lead to a risk of serious harm to a person. 
  • Information that discloses investigative techniques or procedures.  
  • Information, the release of which is prohibited or restricted by law.  
  • Information in which a person’s privacy interest in not having the information published clearly outweighs the public interest in having the information published. 

Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act

Pursuant to section14 (i.e., law enforcement), certain information may not be included in this report. This information may include, but is not limited to, the following: 
  • Confidential investigative techniques and procedures used by law enforcement agencies; and 
  • Information that could reasonably be expected to interfere with a law enforcement matter or an investigation undertaken with a view to a law enforcement proceeding. 

Pursuant to section 21 (i.e., personal privacy), protected personal information is not included in this report. This information may include, but is not limited to, the following: 
  •  The names of persons, including civilian witnesses, and subject and witness officials; 
  • Location information; 
  • Witness statements and evidence gathered in the course of the investigation provided to the SIU in confidence; and 
  • Other identifiers which are likely to reveal personal information about individuals involved in the investigation. 

Personal Health Information Protection Act, 2004

Pursuant to this legislation, any information related to the personal health of identifiable individuals is not included.

Other proceedings, processes, and investigations

Information may also have been excluded from this report because its release could undermine the integrity of other proceedings involving the same incident, such as criminal proceedings, coroner’s inquests, other public proceedings and/or other law enforcement investigations.

Mandate Engaged

Pursuant to section 15 of the SIU Act, the SIU may investigate the conduct of officials, be they police officers, special constables of the Niagara Parks Commission or peace officers under the Legislative Assembly Act, that may have resulted in death, serious injury, sexual assault or the discharge of a firearm at a person.

A person sustains a “serious injury” for purposes of the SIU’s jurisdiction if they: sustain an injury as a result of which they are admitted to hospital; suffer a fracture to the skull, or to a limb, rib or vertebra; suffer burns to a significant proportion of their body; lose any portion of their body; or, as a result of an injury, experience a loss of vision or hearing.

In addition, a “serious injury” means any other injury sustained by a person that is likely to interfere with the person’s health or comfort and is not transient or trifling in nature.

This report relates to the SIU’s investigation into the death of a 40-year-old man (the “Complainant”).

The Investigation

h3]Notification of the SIU
On February 10, 2021, at 5:42 a.m., the Sarnia Police Service (SPS) notified the SIU of the death of the Complainant. The SPS advised that, at 4:05 a.m., an SPS officer attempted to stop a vehicle at Ontario and Russell Streets in Sarnia. The vehicle fled and was involved in a collision at Maria and Russell Streets. It had struck a fence. Approximately 11 seconds were involved during which time the officer advised of the traffic stop and the collision. The involved vehicle had been listed as a stolen auto.

The Team

Date and time team dispatched: 02/10/2021 at 6:37 a.m.

Date and time SIU arrived on scene: 02/10/2021 at 10:05 a.m.

Number of SIU Investigators assigned: 4
Number of SIU Forensic Investigators assigned: 2

Number of SIU Collision Reconstructionists assigned: 1

Affected Person (aka “Complainant”):

40-year-old male, deceased

Civilian Witnesses

CW #1 Not interviewed (Next-of-kin)
CW #2 Not interviewed (Next-of-kin)

Subject Officials

SO Interviewed, but declined to submit notes, as is the subject official’s legal right.

Witness Officials

WO #1 Interviewed
WO #2 Interviewed
WO #3 Interviewed
WO #4 Interviewed
WO #5 Interviewed
WO #6 Interviewed
WO #7 Interviewed

The witness officials were interviewed on February 12, 2021. 
[Note: A witness official is an official (whether a police officer, a special constable of the Niagara Parks Commission or a peace officer with the Legislative Protective Service) who, in the opinion of the SIU Director, is involved in the incident under investigation but is not a subject official in relation to the incident.


The Scene

Scene of Collision

The collision occurred in and around the front lawn of Hanna Memorial Public School located at 369 Maria Street in Sarnia. The intersection was across the street from the Bluewater Health Hospital. 

Figure 1 - The front lawn of Hanna Memorial Public School where the collision occurred.

The stolen Infiniti Q50 was on the front lawn of the school, near Russell Street. The Infiniti had travelled north on Russell Street, lost control and veered into the school yard, in the course of which a metal pole from the chain link fence bordering the property entered through the windshield and impaled the Complainant. It appeared that after he was impaled the Infiniti struck a tree.

The Complainant’s body remained in the vehicle and the school was closed for the day while the coroner and emergency personnel worked on the forensic evidence.


On February 10, 2021, at about 3:00 p.m., SIU Forensic Investigators went to Ontario and Conrad Streets in Sarnia where a video recording was started which followed the route of the SO from that location to the scene.

The route started southeast along Ontario Street to the traffic lights at Russell Street South where the route turned left and continued northbound on Russell Street South. Russell Street North began at the cross street of Davis Street. Russell Street (north and south) was a through street and was mostly residential with single family homes, schools, churches and some small businesses. The streets intersecting with Russell Street North were controlled by stop signs for intersecting streets except for Wellington Street and George Streets which were controlled by traffic lights.

The distance from the start of the video on Ontario Street to the scene was recorded as 1.3 kilometres, but this was not the distance of the pursuit by the SO, as that began on Russell Street South at a point north of Ontario Street.

Scene Diagram

Forensic / Expert Evidence

The stolen Infiniti was towed to the CFS for examination and for data download.

Airbag Control Module (ACM) Data - 2016 Infiniti Q50

At Event One, there was a maximum longitudinal change in velocity (delta v) of -12.0 km/h (front to rear) and maximum lateral delta v of -9.0 km/h (right to left). The driver’s frontal airbag deployed for both stages, the two front occupant seatbelt pretensioners deployed and the right passenger side curtain deployed. All of this was consistent with what one would expect from sideswiping a chain link fence.

According to the pre-crash data below, 5 seconds before striking the fence the Infiniti was operated at 144 km/h and coasted with no braking to 136 km/h 3 seconds before impact. The brakes were applied, and the Infiniti slowed to 102 km/h before colliding with the fence.

In Event Two the longitudinal delta v was -22 km/h (front to rear) and the lateral delta v was -36 km/h (right to left). The deployment command for the driver’s airbag, the right side curtain and the seatbelt pretensioners were similar to Event One. All of this was consistent with what one would expect from side impact with a tree.

According to the pre-crash data below, 5 seconds before striking the tree the Infiniti was operated at 136 km/h and coasted with no braking to 136 km/h 4 seconds before impact. The brakes were applied, and the Infiniti was slowed to 37 km/h before colliding with the tree.

The following chart displays the calculated locations of the Infiniti in half-second increments up to 6.5 seconds before impact with the tree based on its speed.

Global-Positioning System (GPS) Data for the SO’s Unit

The yellow thumb tack in the following Google Earth® images depict the location of the SO’s SPS Unit for the reported times and speeds. The increments of the data were generally six seconds apart and at times were as high as 20 seconds apart. The last few samplings before the cruiser stopped were not included in this report for brevity’s sake. The speeds of the SO’s SPS Unit were reported in mph and, prior to 4:03:11 a.m., were nominal.

Figure 2 - The location of the SO's SPS Unit at 4:03:11 a.m.

4:03:11 a.m. – 50 km/h

Figure 3 - The location of the SO's SPS Unit at 4:03:23 a.m.

4:03:23 a.m. - 0 km/h (Ontario Street at Russell Street)

Figure 4 - The location of the SO's SPS Unit at 4:03:43 a.m.

4:03:43 a.m. - 79 km/h (Northbound Russell Street South)

Figure 5 - The location of the SO's SPS Unit at 4:03:49 a.m.

4:03:49 a.m. - 79 km/h (Northbound Russell Street South)

Figure 6 - The location of the SO's SPS Unit at 4:03:55 a.m.

4:03:55 a.m. - 100 km/h (At Kathleen Avenue)

Figure 7 - The location of the SO's SPS Unit at 4:04:01 a.m.

4:04:01 a.m. - 112 km/h (At Davis Street)

Figure 8 - The location of the SO's SPS Unit at 4:04:07 a.m.
4:04:07 a.m. - 115 km/h (At Cameron Street)

Figure 9 - The location of the SO's SPS Unit at 4:04:13 a.m.

4:04:13 a.m. - 55 km/h (At George Street - controlled by traffic signals)

Figure 10 - The location of the SO's SPS Unit at 4:04:19 a.m.

4:04:19 a.m. - 21 km/h (Approaching scene)

Figure 11 - The location of the SO's SPS Unit at 4:05:01 a.m.

4:05:01 a.m. - 0 km/h (Essex Street at scene)

Conclusions from SIU Reconstructionist
At 4:03 a.m., on February 10, 2021, the Complainant was operating a 2016 black Infiniti Q50 northbound on Russell Street South in Sarnia Ontario;

  • The SO was operating a marked Chevrolet Tahoe, the SO’s SPS Unit, which was traveling at about 79 km/h also northbound on Russell Street South;
  • The weather was clear and the roads were dry;
  • The speed limit on Russell Street South and Russell Street North was 50 km/h;
  • With emergency lighting not activated on the SO’s SPS Unit, both vehicles were driven at an average speed of 103 km/h at Davis Street (where Russell Street South changes to Russell Street North) about 570 metres south of the collision scene;
  • The SO’s SPS Unit was about 3.1 seconds behind;
  • With emergency lighting activated [1] on the SO’s SPS Unit, both vehicles travelled northbound on Russell Street North at an average speed of 90 km/h at Cameron Street, about 361 metres south of the collision scene;
  • The SO’s SPS Unit was about 3.7 seconds behind;
  • The Infiniti crossed George Street through traffic signals at 144 km/h;
  • At a point about 84 metres south of the collision scene and at a speed of 136 km/h, the Infiniti was turned significantly to the right with steering control intact;
  • Steering would be extremely sensitive due to high speed;
  • The Infiniti rotated clockwise about its vertical axis and was driven northeast mounting the east curb and sidewalk;
  • The Infiniti was turned to the left and began to straighten, slowing to 102 km/h as it travelled through the chain link fence of the playground at Hanna Memorial Public School;
  • The top rail of the fence impaled the head of the Complainant;
  • The Infiniti rotated counter-clockwise about its vertical axis and clockwise about its longitudinal axis (as viewed from the front) as it travelled northbound another 30.5 metres;
  • The lower right side of the Infiniti came into collision with a large tree in the playground and the vehicle rotated clockwise about vertical axis coming to rest facing southwest about 7.8 metres from the tree; and
  • At a speed less than 55 km/h, the SO drove the SO’s SPS Unit to the scene seconds later.

Video/Audio/Photographic Evidence [2]

Communications Recordings

On February 22, 2021, at about 11:07 a.m., the SIU received disclosure from the SPS, which included a copy of the SPS communications recordings, internal telephone calls, and the CAD.

At 4:05 a.m., on February 10, 2021, the SO called into the communications centre. Nothing further was said, but 11 seconds later he reported that a vehicle flew past him at Essex Street and Russell Street area. The vehicle was involved in an MVC (motor vehicle collision) across from Bluewater Health Hospital. Shortly after, the SO requested EMS and was told the SFD (Sarnia Fire Department) would also be sent.

At 4:07 a.m., the SO confirmed the MVC was in the Hannah Memorial Public School yard and a single vehicle was involved. The SO spoke of “being through the window and it was not looking good”. EMS and SFD were said to be coming.

At 4:08 a.m., WO #6 was on scene. The SO told him that a pole was through the man’s [the Complainant’s] face and that he asked for EMS to be as quick as possible.

EMS and SPS dispatch centres were called and updated about severe head damage and a pole through the driver’s face. WO #7 was asked if he was copying what had occurred and he acknowledged he had.

A request was made for the traffic and identification branches.

An undesignated officer acknowledged he was listening when asked by WO #7.

WO #7 instructed WO #6 to put up the emergency tape around the scene.

At 4:11 a.m., WO #4 supplied the licence plate and was told the 2016 black Infiniti was stolen out of Chatham.

At 4:17 a.m., WO #7 advised that CPR was being performed, but likely the Complainant was Vital Signs Absent (VSA).

At 4:22 a.m., WO #2 said the Complainant was pronounced dead at the scene. [3]

At 4:36 a.m., the SO advised he was going to the station, but was then told not to.

At about 4:37 a.m., WO #7 indicated a wallet was in a pocket of the Complainant showing his identification. WO #7 said the identification would have to wait for fingerprints because his face was gone.

At 4:55 a.m., WO #7 said that the SO was either on his way or at the station. WO #1 was going to the hospital for stitches due to a finger injury after he broke a window.

At 5:17 a.m., the SO called the communication office and asked for the initial time he called-in and the occurrence number. The SO was asked if he was okay, and he replied he was.

At 5:33 a.m., WO #7 was told that the undesignated officer wanted to talk to him.

At 6:59 a.m., another officer said the coroner was on scene.

At 7:57 a.m., a woman was asking about what information could be sent to the CKPS by email. This conversation was the first time anyone spoke about the SIU invoking their mandate.

At 8:49 a.m., an officer reported that the SIU was on scene.

All communications and telephone calls were reviewed, but there was no information to advance what had occurred between the Complainant and the SO prior to the reported MVC.

Video from Russell Street South #1

This video was obtained from a house on Russell Street South. The camera covered the intersection of Russell and Ontario Streets, and a section of Devine and Russell Streets. At 4:03:03 a.m., the headlights of the Infinity Q50 were seen moving on Devine Street toward Russell Street South. The intersection was controlled by a stop sign on Devine Street.

Video from Russell Street South #2

This video was obtained from a business on Russell Street South.

At 4:03:53 a.m., the Infiniti Q50 was on Russell Street North traveling at what looked like a high rate of speed. At 4:03:57 a.m., four seconds behind, the video captured the SPS SUV driven by the SO. The Infiniti Q50 went out of camera range and, at 4:04:00 a.m., the reflections of the emergency lighting were captured before the SPS SUV went out of camera range.

Video from Russell Street North #1

This video was obtained from a business on Russell Street North. The time on this video footage appeared to be about 20 minutes ahead of actual time.

At 4:25:30 a.m., headlights could be seen in the distance. At 4:25:47 a.m., there were two distinct sets of headlights shown traveling northbound on Russell Street North. The Infiniti Q50 passed through Cromwell Street followed four seconds later by the SPS SUV with its emergency lighting activated.

Video from Russell Street North #2

This video was obtained from a business on Russell Street North.

At 4:04:04 a.m., the Infiniti Q50 travelled northbound past the store at a high rate of speed. At 4:04:08 a.m., the SPS SUV with its emergency lights on drove past the store following the Infiniti Q50.

Bluewater Health, 89 Norman Street

On February 12, 2021, at about 2:01 p.m., staff at Bluewater Health provided the SIU with a thumb drive with video evidence. There was a digital camera mounted below the main entrance canopy at the south side of the hospital. The camera covered the parking lot out to Maria Street and to the north of Russell Street North and Maria Street.

At 4:05:36 a.m., headlights from the Infiniti Q50 were seen northbound on Russell Street. At 4:05:49 a.m., the headlights and a taillights were seen from the Infiniti, which would be consistent with the Infiniti Q50 hitting the tree and spinning. At 4:05:50 a.m., all the Infiniti lights disappeared. At 4:05:52 a.m., a second set of headlights appeared and slowed to a stop [now known to be a SPS SUV]; no emergency lighting was seen. At 4:06:16 a.m., what appeared to be a spotlight was turned on from the SPS SUV shining on what was believed to be the area of impact.

Materials Obtained from Police Service

The SIU obtained and reviewed the following records from the SPS:
  • GPS Data-the SO;
  • Known File Impressions of Deceased;
  • Notes of the SO, WO #1, WO #2, WO #4, WO #5, WO #6 and WO #7
  • SPS email chain regarding push bar on vehicle;
  • SPS Event Chronology;
  • SPS Involved Officers List;
  • SPS Policy-Suspect Apprehension Pursuits; and
  • Will state of WOs.

Materials Obtained from Other Sources

The SIU obtained and reviewed the following records from the following other sources:
  • Data was retrieved from the stolen Infiniti Q50 via the airbag control module; and
  • Videos from Russell Street.

Incident Narrative

The material events in question are clear on the evidence collected by the SIU, which included a review of GPS data associated with the speeds and directionality of the SO’s cruiser, a forensic reconstruction of the collision, and video recordings from security cameras that captured the incident in parts. As was his legal right, the SO chose not to interview with the SIU. He did authorize the release of his notes.

Shortly after 4:00 a.m. of February 10, 2021, the Complainant, operating a stolen Infiniti sedan and traveling in excess of 130 km/h northbound on Russell Street North, crashed his vehicle. The Infiniti had veered right into a chain link fence that lined the perimeter of the yard in front of Hanna Memorial Public School. A piece of metal railing at the top of the fence penetrated into the vehicle’s interior and perforated the Complainant’s body, resulting in his death. The Infiniti came to rest facing southwest in the yard after it struck a tree.

The SO was on scene within seconds of the collision. While traveling east on Ontario Street, the officer had first seen the Infiniti disregard a stop sign moving west on Devine Street past Ontario Street. Shortly thereafter, with the SO stopped at the Ontario Street and Russell Street South intersection, the Complainant drove past the officer northbound on Russell Street South. The licence plate was hanging off the front bumper. The SO decided to stop the Infiniti.

With the SO behind him on Russell Street South, the Complainant picked up his speed and was soon traveling upwards of 100 km/h. He continued to accelerate as the SO activated his emergency lights and attempted to keep pace. Just north of George Street, the Complainant lost control of the Infiniti, jumped the east sidewalk curb, and struck the school fence.

The SO had deactivated his lights and begun to decelerate moments prior to the collision. Coming upon the wreckage, the officer immediately radioed a request for additional first responders.

The Complainant was declared dead at the scene at about 4:15 a.m.

Cause of Death

On February 12, 2021, a pathologist conducted a post-mortem examination, stating the cause of death as, “Impalement injury of face and neck.”

Relevant Legislation

Section 320.13, Criminal Code – Dangerous operation of motor vehicles, vessels and aircraft

320.13 (3) Everyone commits an offence who operates a conveyance in a manner that, having regard to all of the circumstances, is dangerous to the public and, as a result, causes the death of another person.

Analysis and Director's Decision

On February 10, 2021, the Complainant died in a motor vehicle crash on Russell Street North, Sarnia. As his vehicle was briefly pursued by an SPS officer moments before the collision, the SIU was notified and opened a file. The SO, the officer in pursuit, was identified as a subject official for purposes of the SIU investigation. On my assessment of the evidence, there are no reasonable grounds to believe that the SO committed a criminal offence in connection with the Complainant’s death.

The offence that arises for consideration is dangerous driving causing death contrary to section 320.13(3) of the Criminal Code. The offence is predicated, in part, on conduct that amounts to a marked departure from the level of care that a reasonable person would have exercised in the circumstances. In the instant case, the issue is whether there was a want of care in the manner in which the SO pursued the Infiniti that caused or contributed to the Complainant’s death and/or was sufficiently egregious as to attract criminal sanction. In my view, there was not.

The SO was within his rights in initiating a pursuit of the Infiniti. He had witnessed it failing to stop at a stop sign and with a front licence plate poorly secured to the vehicle – infractions of the Highway Traffic Act. Moreover, there were no public safety considerations that would have countenanced against the commencement of a pursuit. For example, there was little if any traffic on the roads, which were dry.

Thereafter, I am unable to reasonably conclude that the SO transgressed the limits of care during the brief period he continued to pursue the Infiniti north on Russell Street. While one may question the speeds reached by the officer in his attempts to keep pace with the Infiniti, between 100 and 115 km/h at times in a 50 km/h zone, they occurred over a very brief stretch on Russell Street – no more than about 24 seconds and 800 metres. During that period, there is no indication that the SO’s driving directly imperiled any third-party member of the public, albeit I accept that the officer’s speeds were inherently dangerous given the nature of the pursuit route – lined with homes, schools, and some business. That said, the officer took steps to mitigate that risk by making use of his emergency lights, thereby giving notice of the pursuit to any potential traffic in the area. Moreover, I am satisfied that the SO discontinued the pursuit within a reasonable period of time when it became clear the Complainant had no intention of stopping. By that time, the weight of public safety considerations had clearly tilted in favour of pursuit termination, and the SO reacted prudently by disengaging when he did.

On the aforementioned-record, and for the foregoing reasons, there are no reasonable grounds to believe that the SO comported himself other than within the limits of care prescribed by the criminal law. Accordingly, there is no basis for proceeding with charges on this case.

Date: June 10, 2021

Electronically approved by

Joseph Martino
Special Investigations Unit


  • 1) Source was a review of video footage showing the emergency lighting activated. [Back to text]
  • 2) The following records contain sensitive personal information and are not being released pursuant to section 34(2) of the Special Investigations Unit Act, 2019. The material portions of the records are summarized below. [Back to text]
  • 3) EMS pronounced the Complainant deceased at the scene after speaking to Dr. Gabriel at the hospital. [Back to text]


The signed English original report is authoritative, and any discrepancy between that report and the French and English online versions should be resolved in favour of the original English report.