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SIU Director’s Report - Case # 19-PVI-155

Contents:

News Releases for this Case:

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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 64-year-old man (the “Complainant”).

The Investigation

Notification of the SIU

On June 29, 2019, at 1:27 p.m., the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) notified the SIU of an injury to the Complainant.

The OPP reported that on June 29, 2019, at 4:31 a.m., OPP officers were at the scene of a major collision on the 401 Highway westbound express, west of Renforth Drive. An OPP police cruiser, operated by Subject Officer (SO) #1 and SO #2, was struck by a civilian vehicle operated by the Complainant while protecting the scene with its emergency lights activated and unoccupied. The Complainant was taken to the Trillium Health Partners and at 1:20 p.m., he was diagnosed with a fractured breast bone. 
 

The Team

Number of SIU Investigators assigned: 3
 

Complainant:

64-year-old male interviewed, medical records obtained and reviewed


Subject Officers

SO #1 Interviewed, and notes received and reviewed
SO #2 Declined interview and to provide notes, as is the subject officer’s legal right


Evidence

The Scene

The Hwy 401, west of Renforth Drive.

Video/Audio/Photographic Evidence


Summary of the Ministry of Transportation of Ontario CCTV:


A police cruiser with the emergency lights activated was parked perpendicular to the live lanes. Burning flares were sitting on the highway in front of the police cruiser. A vehicle, operated by the Complainant, was travelling at a high rate of speed towards the police cruiser. The police officers were using their flashlights, trying to attract the Complainant’s attention and redirect his vehicle. The Complainant applied the brakes and collided with the police cruiser.

Communications Recordings

SO #2 contacted the OPP dispatcher and reported a collision. A civilian car drove into the police cruiser. Multiple communications took place between the OPP dispatcher and detachment in regards to the accident and possible involvement of the SIU.

Materials obtained from Police Service

Upon request the SIU obtained and reviewed the following materials and documents from the OPP:
  • CAD Event Details;
  • Closure of Highway;
  • General Report;
  • Notes of SO #1;
  • Transcript-SO #2;
  • Transcript-SO #1;
  • Will State-SO #1;
  • Witness Statement-the Complainant; and
  • Witness Statement-civilian witness.

Incident Narrative

The facts in question can be succinctly stated. At about 4:30 a.m., the Complainant was driving his Honda Civic vehicle west in one of the middle lanes of the express portion of Highway 401 when he came upon a road block. The block had been erected by SO #1 and SO #2 to ward off traffic from the scene of an accident a short distance west of the block. It consisted of lit flares and pylons on the roadway in front of the cruiser, which was stationary with its emergency lights activated, pointed south and perpendicular across the middle lanes of the expressway. The Complainant did not stop for the cruiser in front of his path until it was too late. He braked but was unable to avoid striking the rear portion of the cruiser.

Relevant Legislation

Section 219 and 221, Criminal Code -- Criminal negligence causing bodily harm

219 (1) Every one is criminally negligent who
(a) in doing anything, or
(b) in omitting to do anything that it is his duty to do,
shows wanton or reckless disregard for the lives or safety of other persons.

(2) For the purposes of this section, duty means a duty imposed by law.

221 Every one who by criminal negligence causes bodily harm to another person is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding ten years

Section 320.13(2), Criminal Code – Dangerous operation causing bodily harm

320.13 (2) 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 bodily harm to another person.

Analysis and Director's Decision

The Complainant suffered a fractured sternum when his vehicle crashed into a police cruiser that had been occupied by SO #1 and SO #2. The collision occurred on June 29, 2019 on the westbound express lanes of Highway 401 east of Dixie Road. For the reasons that follow, I am satisfied there are no reasonable grounds to believe that either officer committed a criminal offence in connection with the Complainant’s injury.

The offences that arise for consideration on this record are that of dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing bodily harm and criminal negligence causing bodily harm contrary to sections 320.13(2) and 221 of the Criminal Code, respectively. Both offences are 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. The road closure had been set up for a legitimate public safety purpose. Importantly, it appears to have been effective without endangering other motorists in the roughly two hours it had been established prior to the collision. Both SO #1 and SO #2, seeing the Complainant’s vehicle bearing down on the road block, flashed their flashlights at the driver to draw his attention to the pending danger. The Complainant ought to have seen the road block well in advance and corrected his direction of travel; for whatever reason, he did not. On this record, there is no evidence to reasonably conclude that the officers exercised a level of care in relation to the road block that transgressed the requirements of the criminal law. Accordingly, there is no basis to proceed with charges against the officers and the file is closed.


Date: August 2, 2019



Joseph Martino
Interim Director
Special Investigations Unit