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SIU Director’s Report - Case # 19-TVD-144

Contents:

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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 the death of a 77-year old man (“Complainant #1”) and serious injuries to a 74-year-old woman (“Complainant #2”).

The Investigation

Notification of the SIU

On June 22, 2019 at 9:25 p.m., the Toronto Police Service (TPS) reported the following:

On June 22, 2019 at about 7:10 p.m., TPS uniform officers were in the process of investigating a vehicle in a plaza parking lot in the Scarborough Golf Club Road (SGCR) and Lawrence Avenue East area. As police officers exited their cruiser, the vehicle being investigated accelerated and fled from the plaza. The police officers returned to their vehicle, activated their emergency equipment, and drove after the fleeing vehicle. As the police officers entered onto Lawrence Avenue East, they apparently discontinued the pursuit.

The fleeing vehicle disobeyed a red traffic signal and struck another vehicle in the intersection of SGCR and Lawrence Avenue East. The driver of the vehicle that was struck died on impact and the passenger of the vehicle was transported to Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre (SHSC). The driver of the fleeing vehicle fled the scene after the collision while the front passenger and rear passenger remained on scene and were subsequently transported to SHSC and Scarborough General Hospital, respectively.

The Team

Number of SIU Investigators assigned: 5
Number of SIU Forensic Investigators assigned: 2

Complainants:

Complainant #1 77-year-old male, deceased
Complainant #2 74-year-old female interviewed, medical records obtained and reviewed


Civilian Witnesses

CW #1 Interviewed
CW #2 Declined interview
CW #3 Interviewed
CW #4 Interviewed
CW #5 Interviewed
CW #6 Interviewed 

Witness Officers

WO #1 Interviewed
WO #2 Notes reviewed, interview deemed not necessary
WO #3 Notes reviewed, interview deemed not necessary


Subject Officers

SO Interviewed, and notes received and reviewed



Evidence

The Scene

Lawrence Avenue East was a six-lane roadway, with three lanes that travelled west and three lanes that travelled east. The posted speed limit was 60 km/h. SGCR was a four-lane roadway, with two lanes that travelled north and two lanes that travelled south. The posted speed limit was 50 km/h.

Scene Diagram

Physical Evidence

Upon the arrival of SIU investigators at the scene, a silver-coloured Honda Civic was positioned in the eastbound lanes of Lawrence Avenue East and it was facing west. There was severe front-end damage to the vehicle. 

Figure 1- The Honda Civic with severe front-end damage.

Figure 1- The Honda Civic with severe front-end damage.

The vehicle driven by Complainant #1, which was a grey-coloured Chevrolet Malibu, was located on the southwest sidewalk curb facing north. There was severe damage to the driver side doors.

Figure 2 - The Chevrolet Malibu with extensive damage to its driver’s side.

Figure 2 - The Chevrolet Malibu with extensive damage to its driver’s side.

An ambulance was parked just west of the intersection and it was manned by a police officer. Complainant #1’s body was inside the ambulance, which was photographed by an SIU forensic investigator.

Forensic Evidence


Automatic Vehicle Location (AVL) / Global Positioning System (GPS) Data Summary – the SO’s Cruiser


The following is a summary of the AVL / GPS data that was collected from the cruiser prior to the collision at Lawrence Avenue East and SGCR:

The cruiser was located on Markham Road, south of Lawrence Avenue East, around 7:05 p.m. According to the SO and WO #1, they were travelling south on Markham Road prior to making a U-turn to travel north and east onto Lawrence Avenue East.

Between 7:05 p.m. and 7:07 p.m., the cruiser travelled east on Lawrence Avenue East at approximately 83 km/h. The posted speed limit was 60 km/h.

At 7:07:46 p.m., the cruiser was near Mossbank Drive and travelled at approximately 75 km/h.

At 7:08 p.m., the cruiser was stopped on 3867 Lawrence Avenue East.

At 7:08:21 p.m., the cruiser was on Susan Street and travelled at about 17 km/h.

At 7:08:40 p.m., the cruiser was travelling west on Lawrence Avenue at Mossbank Drive. The cruiser’s speed was approximately 53 km/h. The cruiser’s lights and sirens were not activated.

At 7:08:48 p.m., the cruiser was approaching the intersection of Lawrence Avenue East and SGCR at about 74 km/h. The cruiser’s lights were activated but the siren was not. A few seconds later, the cruiser’s speed was at about 78 km/h and the siren was turned on.

At 7:09:03 p.m., the cruiser entered into the intersection of Lawrence Avenue East and SGCR and stopped.

Video/Audio/Photographic Evidence


In-Car Camera System (ICCS) Video Footage Summary – the SO’s Cruiser


The following is a summary of the video footage that was captured from the marked cruiser which was driven by the SO on June 22, 2019:

At 7:07 p.m., the ICCS commenced and it showed the SO driving east on Lawrence Avenue East in the left lane. There appeared to be a moderate amount of traffic travelling in the same direction. There was a red-coloured vehicle driving in front of the cruiser in the curb lane. At 7:07:51 p.m., a silver-coloured Honda was seen driving east in the curb lane, ahead of the red-coloured vehicle. The Honda turned right and into the parking lot of a plaza located at 3867 Lawrence Avenue East. At 7:07:56 p.m., the SO turned right into the same parking lot. At 7:08:04 p.m., the SO drove up behind the Honda, which was facing east. The reverse lights of the vehicle appeared to be illuminated. At this time, the SO activated the cruiser’s emergency lights.

At 7:08:09 p.m., the reverse lights of the Honda went off, and soon after, the Honda accelerated forward towards the driveway, located on the northeast side of the plaza, and then drove onto Susan Street and then left (west) onto Lawrence Avenue East. The Honda did not stop at the stop sign on the south side of Lawrence Avenue East and Susan Street.
At 7:08:14 p.m., the SO accelerated forward and exited the plaza using the same driveway and then drove north onto Susan Street. He stopped at the stop sign and the siren turned off. The SO slowly entered traffic turning west onto Lawrence Avenue East and turned the siren back on. Once the SO turned onto Lawrence Avenue East, travelling west, the siren was turned off. A few seconds later, the emergency lights were turned off.

At 7:08:30 p.m., WO #1 advised the dispatcher that they just had a “vehicle take off” from them and the SO drove west on Lawrence Avenue East in the far left lane. About eight seconds later, the SO drove through the intersection of Mossbank Drive and Lawrence Avenue East with no emergency lights or sirens activated.

At 7:08:41 p.m., it could be seen in the distance that there was traffic moving in a north and south direction along SGCR and the Honda collided with another vehicle [now known to have been driven by Complainant #1] at the intersection of Lawrence Avenue East and SGCR. Complainant #1’s vehicle could be seen colliding with the Honda and then sliding south on SGCR until it stopped in its final position. One of the police officers could be heard advising the dispatcher of the collision. At the time of the collision, the cruiser’s emergency lights and siren were not activated until about six seconds later as the SO continued to drive towards the intersection. One of the police officers could be heard advising the dispatcher that the driver of the Honda was running.

At 7:08:57 p.m., or about 16 seconds after the collision, the SO and WO #1 entered into the intersection. Steam could be seen coming out of both Complainant #1’s vehicle and from the Honda. CW #3 could be seen stumbling out of the Honda and on the centre island.

Once the SO and WO #1 got out of the cruiser they could be seen approaching the Honda; however, soon after, the SO approached Complainant #1’s vehicle. He asked that there be a rush on Emergency Medical Services (EMS). A man [now known to be CW #5] approached the Honda as he pointed in a southerly direction.

At 7:17 p.m., firefighters arrived and focused their attention on Complainant #1’s vehicle.

At 7:24 p.m., radio transmissions could be heard advising that one man was found in a stairwell and that he was in custody [now known to be CW #1].


Pre-Collision Closed-Circuit Television (CCTV) Video Footage Summary


Two commercial businesses, both located at 3867 Lawrence Avenue East, at the intersection of Susan Street and Lawrence Avenue East, provided CCTV video footage from June 22, 2019. Both sets of videos were reviewed, and both captured consistent footage pertaining to the Honda entering the plaza’s parking lot and the SO and WO #1’s cruiser following behind. The timestamp on the video footage from Business #1 was six minutes ahead of actual time while the timestamp on the video footage from Business #2 was ten minutes behind actual time. For the purpose of this summary, Business #1’s video was used.

At 7:13 p.m., a silver-coloured vehicle [now known to be the Honda involved in the collision] entered the parking lot of 3867 Lawrence Avenue East and stopped in the middle of the parking lot facing east. Approximately six seconds later, the SO drove into the same parking lot and stopped the cruiser behind the Honda. At 7:13:40 p.m., the emergency lights of the cruiser were activated.

At 7:13:47 p.m., the Honda drove out of the parking lot through the Susan Street exit and made a left (west) onto Lawrence Avenue East, failing to stop at the stop sign. The Honda continued to travel west on Lawrence Avenue East. The SO also drove out of the parking lot using the Susan Street exit and stopped briefly at the stop sign prior to travelling west on Lawrence Avenue East. Shortly after, the recording stopped.


CCTV Video Footage Summary – Business #3


The following is a summary of what was captured from the CCTV video system from a business near the site of the collision:

At 7:11:43 p.m., a silver-coloured Honda drove east along Lawrence Avenue East, passing SGCR. About two seconds later, the SO’s cruiser drove through the same direction, also travelling east. The emergency lights of the cruiser were not activated.

At 7:12:26 p.m., traffic travelling north and south on SGCR proceeded through the intersection of Lawrence Avenue East and SGCR. A few seconds later, the pedestrian walking signal changed from white to flashing red.

At 7:12:54 p.m., a dark-coloured vehicle [now known to have been driven by Complainant #1] drove south on SGCR towards Lawrence Avenue East; however, at the same time, the Honda drove west on Lawrence Avenue East towards SGCR at a high rate of speed and collided with the rear driver side of Complainant #1’s vehicle. Complainant #1’s vehicle spun 360 degrees in a south westerly direction before coming to a stop on the southwest curb of the intersection. The Honda stopped on the west side of Lawrence Avenue East in the middle of the road. Smoke emanated from both vehicles. At 7:13 p.m., a man came out of the Honda and ran in a southerly direction.

At 7:13:14 p.m., the SO’s cruiser, travelling west on Lawrence Avenue East, arrived at the intersection. Once the police officers got out of the cruiser, the SO ran towards Complainant #1’s vehicle while WO #1 ran towards the Honda. A few minutes later, additional police officers arrived on the scene, as well as firetrucks and EMS.


CCTV Video Footage Summary – Business #4


On June 22, 2019, video footage was captured from the CCTV system from an additional business near the site of the collision. The video footage was reviewed, and it showed footage that was consistent with what had been captured from the CCTV system from Business #3.


Cell Phone Video Footage Summary


On June 24, 2019, the SIU received a 50 second (with no time or date stamp) video taken from a cell phone. The footage was captured on June 22, 2019, and showed the following:

A silver-coloured vehicle was positioned in the eastbound lanes of Lawrence Avenue East and facing west. There was severe front-end damage to the vehicle and smoke was emanating from it. There was a man [now known to be CW #2] on his hands and knees next to the Honda on the passenger side. There was also a man [now known to be CW #3] rolling on his back on the raised median in the intersection of Lawrence Avenue East and SGCR. CW #5 could be seen standing near the Honda and pointing in a southerly direction.

Shortly thereafter, the SO and WO #1 were seen running towards the Honda. WO #1 attended to CW #2 while the SO attended to a dark-coloured vehicle [now known to be Complainant #1’s vehicle] which was located on the southwest curb of the intersection. The vehicle was facing north and there was severe driver side damage to it.

Communications Recordings

The following is a summary of the radio communications recorded on June 22, 2019:

At 7:08:32 p.m., the SO and WO #1 reported that a vehicle had “take off on us” [now known to be the Honda involved in the collision] and that it was travelling west towards Mossbank Drive and SGCR. One of the police officers (possibly WO #1) could be heard phonetically stating a licence plate. While broadcasting the licence plate, they advised the vehicle just got into an accident at Lawrence Avenue East and SGCR.

They further advised that one black man was southbound on SGCR.

At 7:09:13 p.m., the SO and WO #1 requested an ambulance and the fire department for the two men who were at the scene [now known to be CW #2 and CW #3] as well as for the occupants in the second vehicle [now known to be Complainant #1 and Complainant #2].

At 7:10 p.m., the SO advised that Complainant #1 was having difficulties breathing and that he was trapped inside the vehicle.

At 7:10:28 p.m., a man [now known to be CW #4] called 911 and advised that he saw a man wearing beige-coloured clothing and running from 550 SGCR and east through a side street. Other 911 phone calls came in advising of the collision or that a man was seen running south on SGCR.

At 7:22 p.m., police officers advised that the driver of the Honda was possibly in a nearby apartment building and at 7:24 p.m., police officers advised that the driver was in custody.

Materials obtained from Police Service

Upon request, the SIU obtained and reviewed the following materials and documents from the TPS:
  • Computer-Assisted Dispatch (CAD)-Event Details Report;
  • CAD-Event Details Report;
  • CAD-Event Details Report;
  • Communication recordings;
  • General Occurrence-Full Case Redacted;
  • GPS Coordinates;
  • ICCS footage;
  • Notes of all witness officers;
  • Procedure-Suspect Apprehension Pursuit; and
  • TPS Measurement Data.

Materials Obtained from Other Sources

The following additional materials and documents were collected and reviewed:
  • SHSC Medical Records – Complainant #2;
  • Centre of Forensic Sciences Preliminary Autopsy Report – Complainant #1;
  • Civilian Cell Phone Video Footage; and
  • Video Footage from six businesses.

Incident Narrative

The material events in question are not in dispute. Shortly after 7:00 p.m., the SO stopped his marked cruiser behind a Honda Civic in the parking lot of a plaza on the southwest corner of Susan Street and Lawrence Avenue East. With him in the passenger seat of the cruiser was his partner, WO #1. The officers had followed the Honda onto the plaza parking lot east along Lawrence Avenue East from Markham Road, where the SO had noticed its front passenger not wearing his seatbelt.

Before the officers could approach the Honda to question the driver, the vehicle sped off, turning left onto Susan Street and then left again onto Lawrence Avenue East. The SO followed suit. Unlike the Honda, the cruiser stopped briefly at the stop sign for northbound traffic on Susan Street before negotiating his way onto Lawrence Avenue East. The Honda accelerated away from the cruiser and travelled through a red traffic control signal at Mossbank Drive without stopping. The SO was in the area of Mossbank Drive on Lawrence Avenue East when off in the distance the Honda crossed into Scarborough Golf Club Road on a red light and struck the Complainants’ vehicle.

The SO rushed to the scene in his cruiser and, together with WO #1, rendered aid to the Complainants pending the arrival of the fire department and paramedics. They also tended to two of the passengers from the Honda – CW #2 and CW #3. The driver of the Honda had fled from the scene.

Complainant #2 had fractured her pubic bone in the collision. The SIU was unable to ascertain whether the Honda’s passengers had sustained injuries as they declined to authorize the release of their medical records.


Cause of Death


At autopsy, the pathologist was of the view that Complainant #1 died of multiple blunt force trauma.

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.

Section 320.13 (3), Criminal Code – Dangerous operation causing death

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

Complainant #1 died tragically in a motor vehicle collision in the City of Toronto on June 22, 2019. He was driving a Chevrolet Malibu traveling south on Scarborough Golf Club Road when his vehicle was t-boned by a Honda Civic proceeding west on Lawrence Avenue East through the intersection. Complainant #1’s wife, Complainant #2, was sitting in the passenger seat of the vehicle and suffered fractures of the pubic bone. Moments prior, the SO had attempted to stop the vehicle to investigate its occupants. On my assessment of the evidence, there are no reasonable grounds to believe that the SO committed a criminal offence in connection with the collision.

The offences that arise for consideration are dangerous driving causing bodily harm and dangerous driving causing death contrary to sections 320.13(2) and (3) of the Criminal Code, respectively. As offences of penal negligence, these crimes are predicated, in part, on conduct that amounts to a marked departure from the level of care that a reasonable person would have observed in the circumstances. Having observed the front passenger inside the Honda without a seatbelt on, the SO and WO #1 were within their rights in seeking to stop the vehicle to investigate a potential violation of the Highway Traffic Act. When the Honda accelerated away from the officers in the plaza parking lot, the SO pursued the vehicle for a short period but quickly disengaged, reasonably in my view, deactivating the cruiser’s emergency lights and siren. Given the circumstances, a full-blown police pursuit was unwarranted: there was plenty of traffic on the roadway, the subject offence was non-criminal in nature, and the Honda was well ahead of the cruiser. With respect to the cruiser’s speed, the SO was only moderately about the 60 km/h speed limit on Lawrence Avenue East, having reached a top speed of 78 km/h as he accelerated to the scene following the collision. Regrettably, though the Honda driver had every opportunity to moderate his reckless driving, he chose to drive into an intersection on a red light causing death and serious injury to a husband and wife, respectively. On this record, in the context of an extremely brief engagement between the cruiser and the Honda – under 30 seconds and about one kilometre – I am satisfied on reasonable grounds that the manner in which the SO operated the police cruiser fell well within the limits of care prescribed by the criminal law.

In the result, as the SO neither caused nor contributed to the collision between the Honda and the Complainants’ vehicle in any manner that might attract criminal sanction, there is no basis for proceeding with charges in this case and the file is closed.


Date: December 9, 2019

Original signed by

Joseph Martino
Interim Director
Special Investigations Unit