Cruiser and motorbikeRunnersCruiser accident
thick blue gradient line

SIU Director’s Report - Case # 18-PVI-028

Contents:

News Releases for this Case:

French:

Mandate of the SIU

The Special Investigations Unit is a civilian law enforcement agency that investigates incidents involving police officers where there has been death, serious injury or allegations of sexual assault. The Unit’s jurisdiction covers more than 50 municipal, regional and provincial police services across Ontario.

Under the Police Services Act, the Director of the SIU must determine based on the evidence gathered in an investigation whether an officer has committed a criminal offence in connection with the incident under investigation. If, after an investigation, there are reasonable grounds to believe that an offence was committed, the Director has the authority to lay a criminal charge against the officer. Alternatively, in all cases where no reasonable grounds exist, the Director does not lay criminal charges but files a report with the Attorney General communicating the results of an investigation.

Information restrictions

Freedom of Information and Protection of Personal Privacy Act (“FIPPA”)

Pursuant to section 14 of FIPPA (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 whose release 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 of FIPPA (i.e., personal privacy), protected personal information is not included in this document. This information may include, but is not limited to, the following:
  • Subject Officer name(s);
  • Witness Officer name(s);
  • Civilian Witness name(s);
  • 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 (“PHIPA”)

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

Other proceedings, processes, and investigations

Information may have also 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

The Unit’s investigative jurisdiction is limited to those incidents where there is a serious injury (including sexual assault allegations) or death in cases involving the police.

“Serious injuries” shall include those that are likely to interfere with the health or comfort of the victim and are more than merely transient or trifling in nature and will include serious injury resulting from sexual assault. “Serious Injury” shall initially be presumed when the victim is admitted to hospital, suffers a fracture to a limb, rib or vertebrae or to the skull, suffers burns to a major portion of the body or loses any portion of the body or suffers loss of vision or hearing, or alleges sexual assault. Where a prolonged delay is likely before the seriousness of the injury can be assessed, the Unit should be notified so that it can monitor the situation and decide on the extent of its involvement.

This report relates to the SIU’s investigation into a serious injury sustained by a 41-year-old female on February 1, 2018.

The Investigation

Notification of the SIU

On February 2, 2018, at 1:45 a.m., the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) of the Aurora Detachment notified the SIU of the serious injury sustained by the Complainant as a result of a single motor vehicle collision in King City that occurred three hours earlier on King Road.

The Team

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

On February 2, 2018, four SIU investigators and two SIU forensic investigators (FIs) initiated an investigation in King City. The scene was extensively photographed and a diagram prepared. The area was canvassed for witnesses and/or surveillance devices to no avail. Medical records were eventually obtained on consent and the Complainant was interviewed in the presence of a government interpreter.

Complainant:

41-year-old female interviewed, medical records obtained and reviewed

Civilian Witnesses

CW #1 Interviewed
CW #2 Interviewed

Witness Officers

WO Interviewed, notes received and reviewed


Subject Officers

SO Interviewed, and notes received and reviewed


Incident Narrative

On February 1, 2018, the subject officer (SO) encountered the Complainant driving near King Road and Stan Roots Road in King City. The SO was travelling westbound in the middle lane on King Road, approaching the intersection, when he observed the Complainant travel through a red light and turn eastbound into the westbound passing lane next to his vehicle. The SO activated his emergency lights and performed a U-turn. The SO briefly followed the Complainant, but the Complainant veered to avoid a road sign on the median and struck a concrete pillar. The Complainant was later diagnosed with a fractured wrist and ankle.

Evidence

Scene Diagram

Scene diagram

Communications Recordings

The SO reported that he had no time whatsoever to communicate to the Provincial Communications Centre (OPP Provincial Communications Centre ">PCC0 because the incident occurred too quickly for him to use the microphone. His first contact with the OPP Provincial Communications Centre ">PCC was to call for EMS after arriving at the scene.

Materials obtained from Police Service

Upon request the SIU obtained and reviewed the following materials and documents from the OPP Aurora Detachment, Highway Safety Division/Headquarters; and York Regional Police (YRP):
  • Notes of OPP officer, the SO;
  • Notes of YRP officer, the witness officer (WO);
  • The YRP CAD report;
  • The YRP Arrest report for the Complainant;
  • The YRP Ministry of Transport Collision report; 
  • The YRP Breathalyzer report;
  • The OPP Communications Recording;
  • The AVL/GPS data for the SO’s cruiser;
  • The OPP CAD report;
  • The OPP Occurrence report; and 
  • The AVL/GPS data from the Honda driven by the Complainant.


AVL Data for the Honda driven by the Complainant

The Crash Data Retrieval (CDR) of the Honda was analyzed by the SIU. In the five seconds preceding the collision, and while travelling eastbound in the westbound lanes of King Road, the following was noted.

The Complainant maintained a median speed of 47 km/h until two seconds prior to impact. At that point, she increased throttle use from 32% to 99% and hit the barrier at a speed of 54 km/h, consistent with the estimate of the SO.


AVL Data for the OPP Cruiser

  • 9:58:55 p.m. (85 km/h);
  • 9:59:08 p.m. (82 Km/h);
  • 9:59:17 p.m. (89 Km/h;
  • 9:59:27 p.m. (89 km/h);
  • 9:59:38 p.m. (81 km/h);
  • 9:59:49 p.m. (79 km/h);
  • 10:00:03 p.m. (14 km/h);
  • 10:00:08 p.m. (21 km/h);
  • 10:00:12 p.m. (34 km/h);
  • 10:00:16 p.m. (23 km/h); and
  • 10:00:19 p.m. (0) at scene.

The data retrieved from the cruiser operated by the SO is entirely consistent with his own estimations. His speed in the one and a half minute prior to the Complainant’s collision was between 14 and 89 km/h until his U-turn at 14 to 34 km/h. The SO activated his emergency lights just as he initiated the U-turn and the four speeds recorded on the AVL from the point of the U-turn to the scene were 14 km/h, 21 km/h, 34 km/h and 23 km/h. He arrived at the scene 16 seconds after slowing to execute the U-turn.

Relevant Legislation

Section 249, Criminal Code -- Dangerous operation of motor vehicles, vessels and aircraft

249    (1) Every one commits an offence who operates
(a) a motor vehicle in a manner that is dangerous to the public, having regard to all the circumstances, including the nature, condition and use of the place at which the motor vehicle is being operated and the amount of traffic that at the time is or might reasonably be expected to be at that place

(3) Every one who commits an offence under subsection (1) and thereby causes bodily harm to any other person is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding ten years.

Analysis and Director's Decision

On February 1, 2018, the Subject Officer (SO) attempted to stop the Complainant in King City after witnessing her run a red light, drive in the wrong direction on a roadway and veer to avoid signs. Almost immediately after the SO activated his lights and made a U-turn, the Complainant drove her vehicle into a concrete pillar. The SO approached her vehicle and detected an odor of alcohol on her breath. The Complainant was taken to MacKenzie Memorial Hospital where she was diagnosed with fractures to her right wrist and left ankle.

The SIU’s investigation into this incident consisted of an interview with the Complainant, Civilian Witness (CW) #1, the SO and the Witness Officer (WO). An off-duty officer (CW #2) who witnessed the incident was also interviewed by the York Regional Police and his statement was reviewed. After considering the totality of the evidence, I believe the Complainant was the architect of her own misfortune when she decided to drive erratically (while possibly impaired) and I am unable to find that the SO committed a criminal offence in relation to the collision.

On February 1, 2018, at approximately 10:00 p.m., the SO was operating his marked OPP cruiser in King City, heading westbound on King Road. King Road has two westbound lanes of traffic and there is an additional westbound lane for left turning vehicles at the intersection of King Road and Stan Roots Street. The SO told the SIU that he was in the passing lane (the middle westbound lane), approaching Stan Roots Street, when he observed a Honda CRV driven by the Complainant travelling southbound on Stan Roots Street. The Complainant disobeyed a red traffic light at the intersection and turned eastbound into the westbound turn lane of King Road. The Complainant veered away from the median to avoid a road sign then returned to the passing lane, passing within inches of the SO’s police cruiser. The SO said he decided to stop the Complainant as she had committed multiple Highway Traffic Act (HTA) offences so he activated his emergency lights and performed a U-turn. He followed her briefly eastbound, driving in the eastbound lane of King Road, but the Complainant veered to avoid another road sign and she then headed towards the exit of a gas station where she struck a concrete pillar.

In my opinion, the SO is a credible and reliable witness. I believe he is telling the truth because his statement is consistent with the remainder of the evidence. The subject officer’s statement was entirely corroborated by an off-duty York Regional Police (YRP) officer who witnessed the SO’s behaviour prior to the collision. The SO also spoke with the WO of the YRP after the collision and made a statement about the incident which was predominately consistent with what he told the SIU. Moreover, and most significantly, the SO’s statement was consistent with the CDR data from the Complainant’s vehicle and the AVL data from the SO’s police cruiser – which confirmed that the SO did not follow the Complainant at a high speed and that the SO had only followed the Complainant for a matter of seconds before she collided with the concrete pillar. I accordingly accept the SO’s account of the incident.

In circumstances such as these the only criminal charge that warrants consideration is dangerous driving causing bodily harm contrary to 249(3) of the Criminal Code. In R. v. Beatty, [2008] 1 S.C.R. 49, the Supreme Court of Canada indicated that this offence requires that “the driving be dangerous to the public, having regard to all of the circumstances, including the nature, condition and use of the place at which the motor vehicle is being operated and the amount of traffic that, at the time, is or might reasonably be expected to be at that place”; furthermore, the driving must be such that it amounts to “a marked departure from the standard of care that a reasonable person would observe in the accused’s circumstances.” I do not believe any aspect of this test is made out. The uncontradicted evidence establishes that the SO simply performed a U-turn and followed the Complainant eastbound in the eastbound lane. The traffic was light and there is no evidence that the conditions made it unsafe to perform the U-turn. The SO activated his lights to signal his presence to other vehicles, which was confirmed by the AVL data from his police cruiser. The AVL data also confirmed that the SO operated his police cruiser at an unremarkable speed, travelling up to 34 km/hr after he completed his U-turn which was well within King Road’s speed limit of 50 km/hr. In my opinion this manner of driving falls well short of the standard required for dangerous driving. Nor does it demonstrate a departure from the standard of a reasonable police officer – let alone a marked departure. Attempting to stop the Complainant, who had committed multiple HTA offences and was actively creating a risk of harm to herself and others by driving erratically on the wrong side of the road was entirely appropriate and reasonable. The manner in which the SO attempted to do so did not depart from the standard of care expected of a reasonable officer in the SO’s circumstances.

Furthermore, I am unable to find that the SO’s driving contributed to the collision. There is no evidence that the Complainant was even aware the SO wanted to stop her and as a result, there is no way to find that the SO’s actions contributed to the collision.

In sum, as I believe the SO’s driving was not dangerous, was reasonable and did not contribute to the collision, I am unable to form grounds to believe he committed a criminal offence in relation to the allegation. The file will be closed.


Date: November 28, 2018



Original signed by

Tony Loparco
Director
Special Investigations Unit