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SIU Director’s Report - Case # 18-OVI-380

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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 serious injuries sustained by a 39-year-old man (the “Complainant”).

The Investigation

Notification of the SIU

On December 30, 2018 at 4:55 a.m., the Ottawa Police Service (OPS) contacted the SIU and reported the following:

On December 30, 2018 at about 1:10 a.m., OPS police officers saw the Complainant driving a motor vehicle in the Côté Street area of Ottawa. Police officers attempted to stop the Complainant believing that he may have been impaired; however, when the police officers activated the police cruiser emergency lights, the Complainant sped away. Police officers discontinued their efforts to stop the Complainant; however, approximately one block ahead, the Complainant failed to stop at a T-intersection and collided into a residence located on Jean Talon Street.

The Complainant was transported to Montfort Hospital where he was diagnosed with multiple fractured ribs.

The Team

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

Complainant:

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


Witness Officers

WO #1 Interviewed
WO #2 Not interviewed, but notes received and reviewed
WO #3 Interviewed


Subject Officers

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


Evidence

The Scene

St. Laurent Boulevard was a four-lane road; two lanes travelled south and two lanes travelled north. The speed limit was 50 km/h. Côté Street, which eventually changed to Pie Xii Street, was a two-lane road; one lane travelled east and one lane travelled west. The speed limit on Côté Street / Pie Xii Street was not posted but was presumed to be 50 km/h under section 128 (1) (a) of the Ontario Highway Traffic Act. Pie Xii Street ended at Jean Talon Street. The intersection resembled that of a T-intersection. Both Jean Talon Street and Pie Xii Street were surrounded by residential homes and apartment buildings.

The residence located on Jean Talon Street was a bungalow style home with a medium sized front lawn and a large sized mature tree on the front lawn. At the time SIU investigators arrived at the scene, the weather was very cold, approximately -13 degrees, and both Côté Street / Pie Xii Street and Jean Talon Street were snow covered with a layer of ice underneath the snow.

The front end of the Complainant’s vehicle, which was a 2005 silver coloured four door Chrysler 300 sedan, had impacted the front of the home. The front of the house had a wooden front deck. The cladding and wood frame of the house was broken open underneath the living room window and the block basement wall was broken open into a basement bedroom for 1.9 metres wide, up to 1.27 metres above the ground and 1.2 metres deep. There were two rolling tire marks on the snow-covered front lawn of the house, which followed a westerly path for 5.7 metres from the centre of the street towards the rear tires of the Complainant’s vehicle.

Physical Evidence

The SO’s cruiser showed no significant damage nor was there any evidence that it was involved in a collision or contact with another vehicle.

The complete front end of the Complainant’s vehicle was crushed. The top half of the steering wheel was folded forward. The windshield above the steering wheel was completely smashed and there was an inside to outside hole through the windshield with hair attached to it in the area of the damage. Both front tires were flat; however, the two rear tires were still inflated. The driver’s frontal airbag deployed. The driver’s seat belt was jammed in the retraction housing and there was some loose material but not enough to secure a driver of any size.

Forensic Evidence


GPS Summary from the SO’s Police Vehicle


On December 30, 2018, at approximately 1:04 a.m., the cruiser was seen resting in the area of Montreal Road and Granville Street. At approximately 1:07 a.m., the cruiser was seen driving east on Montreal Road at the approximate speed of 75 km/h. At 1:07:45 a.m., as the cruiser approached the intersection of Montreal Street and St. Laurent Boulevard, it reached a speed of 92 km/h. At 1:08 a.m., the cruiser was travelling in a south direction at an approximate speed of 71 km/h. At 1:08:25 a.m., as the cruiser approached Côté Street while on St. Laurent Boulevard, the speed dropped to 47 km/h. At 1:08:53 a.m., the cruiser was driving west on Côté Street reaching a speed of 74 km/h but then the speed dropped to about 51 km/h, 15 seconds later and then to 14 km/h. It appeared that the cruiser first arrived at Jean Talon Street and Pie Xii Street at about 1:09:23 a.m.

Communications Recordings

At approximately 1:09 a.m., on December 30, 2018, the SO’s first radio transmission to communications was made and he advised that “we just had a vehicle [now known to have been driven by the Complainant] take off on us. It looked like he just crashed into a house [on Jean Talon Street].” Further communications were made to indicate that additional help was on its way and that the house did not have anybody inside at the time of the collision.

Materials obtained from Police Service

Upon request the SIU obtained and reviewed the following materials and documents from the OPS:
  • Alcohol Influence Report (incomplete);
  • CAD Call;
  • Email from OPS;
  • GPS Notes;
  • List of Involved Officers;
  • MDT Transactions (x9);
  • Notes of all witness officers;
  • Communications Tape;
  • Policy - Suspect Apprehension; and
  • Prosecution Summary and Charges.

Incident Narrative

The material events in question are apparent on the information collected by the SIU, which included statements from the Complainant, the SO, and the SO’s partner, WO #1. Shortly after 1:00 a.m., the Complainant was operating his vehicle east on Montreal Road when he came to the attention of the SO and WO #1. The officers were on patrol in their cruiser and had observed the Complainant weaving in and out of traffic. The SO accelerated to catch up to the Complainant, and followed the Complainant’s vehicle as it turned right to travel south on St. Laurent Boulevard. In the area of St. Laurent Boulevard and Clarke Avenue, the SO decided to pull the Complainant over; he activated his emergency lights as he pulled in directly behind the Complainant.

The Complainant began to slow his vehicle as he turned west onto Côté Street. He then accelerated his vehicle as he continued west along Côté Street, blew past a stop sign at de l’Église Street and travelled toward the roadway’s T-intersection with Jean Talon Street. The SO, who initially accelerated in an effort to keep up with the Complainant on Côté Street, quickly abandoned that effort. The Complainant drove through a stop sign at Jean Talon Street and cashed into the home.

The SO continued west on Côté Street and came upon the collision site. The Complainant crawled out through the front passenger door of his wrecked vehicle and was arrested by the SO and WO #1. An ambulance attended and transported the Complainant to hospital, where he was diagnosed with five fractured ribs. Fortunately, the home, which sustained significant damage, was unoccupied at the time.

Relevant Legislation

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

On December 30, 2018, the Complainant crashed his vehicle into a home on Jean Talon Street in Vanier, suffering fractured ribs in the process. Moments prior to the collision, the SO of the OPS had attempted to pull him over. For the reasons that follow, I am satisfied there are no reasonable grounds to believe the SO committed a criminal offence in connection with the Complainant’s injuries.

The offence that arises for consideration is dangerous driving causing bodily harm contrary to section 320.13(2) of the Criminal Code. The offence is predicated, in part, on conduct that deviates markedly from a reasonable standard of care in the circumstances. The SO was in the discharge of his lawful duties when he came upon the Complainant’s vehicle and decided to stop it. He had witnessed the Complainant engage in erratic driving and was within his rights in seeking to investigate the Complainant’s level of sobriety. The speeds reached by the SO on Montreal Road topped out at about 90 km/h. While this exceeded the speed limit, it was very short-lived, occurred over a dry road, and was understandable as the officer attempted to catch up to the Complainant. Once in behind the Complainant’s vehicle on St. Laurent Boulevard and then, briefly, on Côté Street, the SO never exceeded 71 km/h and 74 km/h, respectively. The officer’s acceleration on Côté Street occurred over a very short distance as he initially considered pursuing the Complainant. However, the SO quickly gave up the chase when he determined, rightly in my view, that the snow and ice on the road made any further engagement a dangerous proposition. Thereafter, the SO drove at a moderate speed to the scene of the collision. On this record, it is evident that the SO conducted himself with due regard for the safety of the public around him, including the Complainant.

In the final analysis, as there are no grounds to reasonably conclude that the Complainant’s collision can in any way be attributed to the manner in which the SO operated his cruiser, there is no basis to proceed with charges against the officer and the file is closed.


Date: September 13, 2019



Joseph Martino
Interim Director
Special Investigations Unit