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SIU Director’s Report - Case # 19-PVI-237

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 serious injuries sustained by a 56-year-old man (“Complainant #1”) and a 61-year-old woman (“Complainant #2”).

The Investigation

Notification of the SIU

On September 25, 2019, at 7:55 p.m., the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP), Eastern Region, notified the SIU of Complainant #1’s injury.

According to the OPP, on September 25, 2019, at 2:55 p.m., an OPP officer [now known to be the Subject Officer (SO)], operating a marked OPP cruiser, was turning left when he was struck by an oncoming civilian vehicle [now known to have been operated by Complainant #2] at the intersection of Petawawa Boulevard and Canadian Forces Drive in Petawawa. A passenger in the civilian vehicle [now known to be Complainant #1] sustained a broken ankle, and a child [now known to be the granddaughter of Complainant #1 and Complainant #2] was taken to hospital in Petawawa with what were believed to be minor injuries.

OPP Technical Traffic Collision Investigation members were at the scene and would process it accordingly and the cruiser would be secured for SIU examination.

At the time of notification, the OPP did not have the names of any of the involved parties.

On October 29, 2019, independent of the OPP, the SIU learned that Complainant #2 had been diagnosed with a concussion on September 30, 2019. 

The Team

Number of SIU Investigators assigned: 3

SIU investigators interviewed the complainants, civilian and police witnesses, and canvassed the area for Closed Circuit Television data relevant to the incident.

One SIU investigator, having specialized training in collision reconstruction, examined and photographed the involved vehicles, collected data pertaining to the collision, and authored an analysis relevant to the incident. No reconstruction report was made as the scene was examined, photographed, and released by the OPP prior to notification of the incident being made to the SIU

Complainants

Complainant #1 56-year-old male interviewed, medical records obtained and reviewed
Complainant #2 61-year-old female interviewed, medical records obtained and reviewed


Civilian Witnesses

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

Witness Officers

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


Subject Officers

SO Declined interview and to provide notes, as is the subject officer’s legal right


Evidence

The Scene

The incident occurred in the intersection of Petawawa Boulevard and Canadian Forces Drive, which is controlled by traffic signals. Canadian Forces Drive extends to facilitate access to the Petawawa Market Mall in Petawawa.

The roadways were asphalt pavement with markings denoting stop-lines, pedestrian perimeters, turning lanes, and lanes for through-traffic.

Expert Evidence


SIU Collision Reconstructionist Analysis


What follows is an analysis of the Crash Data Retrieval (CDR) documents supplied by OPP WO #4. This is an analysis of the three vehicles involved in this collision in relation to speeds, throttle and braking positioning, engines’ revolutions per minute (RPM), and steering inputs pre-impact.

The SIU received three CDR files containing information of the imaging of the three vehicles conducted by WO #4 on September 25, 2019.

File 1: 2018 Dodge Caravan [now known to have been operated by Complainant #2]. Blue in colour. Event Data Recorder (EDR) Device Type: Airbag Control Module. Event recovered: Most recent event.

File 2: 2015 Ford Taurus [now known to have been operated by the SO]. Black and white OPP police vehicle - fully marked. EDR Device Type: Airbag Control Module. Event recovered: Locked frontal event.

File 3: 2015 Ford Taurus [now known to be operated by WO #3]. Black OPP police vehicle with subdued markings. EDR Device Type: Airbag Control Module. Event recovered: None.


File 1: 2018 Dodge Caravan

The safety belts were buckled for the driver, Complainant #2, and the front passenger, Complainant #1.

The cruise control was off and not engaged.

The author of the analysis completed an analysis of the pre-crash data of the most recent event. At 5.0 seconds before “Time Zero” the van was travelling at 63 km/h with the accelerator pedal at 0% and rpm at 995. Service brake was off. It appears that the operator of the Dodge Caravan, Complainant #2, was off the accelerator and brake and the vehicle was travelling forward at a constant velocity in a relatively idle condition. The constant speed of 63 km/h was maintained for about 1.5 seconds when Complainant #2 applied the brakes of the vehicle and the speed was gradually decreased to 57 km/h at 2.5 seconds prior to “Time Zero”.

The service brake was released at 2.2 seconds prior to “Time Zero” and at 2.1 seconds prior to “Time Zero”, some accelerator was applied, gradually increasing the rpm, but it appears not to have been excessive. From 1.2 seconds prior to “Time Zero” to 0.1 seconds prior to “Time Zero” the speed increased marginally from 58 km/h to 60 km/h at around the time of the collision. The brake pedal was not engaged at “Time Zero” and the accelerator pedal was at 0 percent indicating to the author that Complainant #2 was off the brake and accelerator maintaining a constant speed of 60 km/h entering the intersection.

Of interest was that the rpm of the Dodge Caravan did not increase significantly, and the speed did not increase significantly, which indicates there was no sudden or quick acceleration by Complainant #2 prior to entering the intersection. Although the data does show some increase, it was minimal and gradual.

The author used ‘Google Earth Pro’ to conduct an analysis of the distances of the area of impact and location of stop lines for westbound Petawawa Boulevard at Canadian Forces Drive. From the stop line for westbound vehicular traffic of Petawawa Boulevard at the intersection, the approximate distance, using Google Earth Pro, is around 28.5 metres to the area of impact in the intersection.

The author calculated the average speed for the Dodge Caravan from 2.0 seconds to “Time Zero” with a value calculated of 58.2 km/h. The velocity is 16. 2 m/sec for this average speed and for the time duration of 2.0 seconds the Dodge Caravan would travel around 32.4 metres. Considering the distance from the stop line to the area of impact is around 28.5 metres, then the Dodge Caravan would be about 3.9 metres east of the stop line at 2.0 seconds before the collision occurred. According to P. Olson, in published Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) Paper 890731, a reasonable perception–response (reaction) time for a relatively straightforward situation would be about 1.5 seconds. This would explain why the brake was not applied and no evidence of skidding tires found from the Dodge Caravan at the collision scene.

The author examined the steering input for the Dodge Caravan from 5.0 seconds pre-crash to “Time Zero”. From the data limitation sheet, it indicates that a negative value means steering wheel rotation is clockwise (to the right). There is a noticeable increase in steering input from the Dodge Caravan about 1.1 seconds prior to “Time Zero”. Complainant #2 turned the steering wheel to the right in a clockwise direction noted from the data captured. The steering to the right increased almost all the way to “Time Zero” indicating to the author that Complainant #2 was attempting to steer to the right to avoid a collision with the police vehicle in the intersection.

This steering input started at 1.1 seconds prior to “Time Zero” and, from the previous data, with an average velocity of 16.2 m/sec, the Dodge Caravan would be about 17.8 metres east of the area of impact when the steering input was first initiated.


File 2: 2015 Ford Taurus OPP police vehicle

The safety belt was buckled for the driver, the SO.

There was one airbag deployment event recorded at ignition cycle 7149 and the CDR download done at ignition cycle 7151; an airbag deployment event is an event in which frontal, side, or curtain airbags have deployed.

The cruise control was off and not engaged.

The author completed an analysis of the pre-crash data for the 2015 OPP police vehicle operated by the SO.

“Time Zero” or Event Beginning on any event (First Record or Second Record) is defined as the first Algorithm wake up during that event, so all the Pre-Crash, At Event, Delta V Data, deployment times etc.…. are relative to “Time Zero.”

At 5.0 seconds prior to “Time Zero,” the police vehicle was travelling at 24 km/h and the service brake was on; it appears the police vehicle was slowing as indicated by the idle rpm data. The police vehicle continued to slow from 24 km/h down to 7 km/h, 2.0 seconds prior to “Time Zero.” The SO disengaged the service brake and accelerated increasing the rpm slightly at 2.0 seconds prior to “Time Zero.” The SO continued to accelerate increasing the rpm quickly and increasing the speed of the police vehicle from 7 km/h to 23 km/h just prior to “Time Zero” when the collision occurred. At the time of the collision, the service brake was engaged, most likely as a result of the collision, and the speed decreased as a result of the contact with the oncoming van. The acceleration speeds went from 7 km/h to 23 km/h in a time of about 1.5 seconds.

The author examined the steering input for the police vehicle from 5.0 seconds pre-crash to “Time Zero”. From the data limitation sheet, it indicates that a positive value means steering wheel rotation is counter-clockwise (to the left).

At 5.0 seconds prior to “Time Zero,” the steering wheel angle was -3.0 and decreasing, relatively in a straight configuration with very little steering input all the way down to 2.4 seconds prior to “Time Zero.” At 2.4 seconds prior to “Time Zero,” steering input to the left was initiated and the steering to the left in a counter-clockwise direction was increased indictive of a left-hand turn. The SO was turning left from the left turn lane of eastbound Petawawa Boulevard into the Petawawa Market Mall area.

Of interest, when the SO commenced the left turn at around 2.4 seconds prior to “Time Zero,” the van operated by Complainant #2 would be about 38.9 metres east of his location, assuming a constant velocity of the van at 16.2 m/sec.

Taking into account that the approximate distance, from the area of the collision to the stop line for westbound Petawawa Boulevard, was about 28.5 metres, the van would be about 10.4 metres east of the stop line when the SO initiated steering input to the left and accelerated into a left turn.


File 3. 2015 Ford Taurus OPP police vehicle

There was/were no event(s) recorded for the police vehicle operated by WO #3.

Video/Audio/Photographic Evidence


County of Renfrew Traffic Signal Timing and Display Sequence


The data obtained from the County of Renfrew confirmed that there was no variation in the timing and display sequence for the traffic signal lights, and that the traffic signal lights were operating properly at the time of the collision.

Communications Recordings


Communications Audio Recordings


OPP audio recordings captured the initial 911 call and communications dispatching officers and resources to the scene. There was nothing in the communications audio recordings of probative value to advance the investigation of the SO’s operation of his vehicle and of the collision.

Materials obtained from Police Service

Upon request, the SIU obtained and reviewed the following materials and documents from the OPP:
  • Communications audio recordings:
  • CDR data from the SO’s vehicle;
  • CDR data from WO #3’s vehicle;
  • Global Positioning Satellite and speed data for involve police vehicles;
  • Motor Vehicle Collision Report;
  • News Release;
  • Notes of witness officers;
  • Occurrence Summary;
  • OPP-issue cellular telephone records for the SO and WO #3;
  • Technical Collision Field Notes-WO #4;
  • Vehicle Exam Notes-WO #4; and
  • Vehicle Exam Notes-WO #2.

Materials obtained from Other Sources

Upon request, the SIU obtained and reviewed the following materials and documents from other sources:
  • County of Renfrew Paramedic Service reports;
  • County of Renfrew Traffic Signal Timing and Display Sequence;
  • Medical records pertaining to Complainant #2 relevant to the incident;
  • Pembroke Regional Hospital (PRH) records for the complainants relevant to the incident; and
  • Photographs - 45 in total - of the incident scene.

Incident Narrative

The events in question surrounding the injuries sustained by the Complainants are apparent based on the information collected by the SIU, which included statements provided by Complainant #1 and Complainant #2; and, seven civilian and six police witnesses. The subject officer declined to provide the SIU investigators with a statement or a copy of his notebook, as was his legal right. In addition to the witness evidence, the investigation was significantly aided by the CDR systems from the motor vehicles operated by the SO and Complainant #2.

On September 25, 2019, at approximately 2:50 p.m., Complainant #2 was driving a blue Dodge Caravan westbound on Petawawa Boulevard. Her front seat passenger was Complainant #1, while the back seat was occupied by her granddaughter and their dog. Both Complainant #2 and Complainant #1 had their seatbelts engaged. The weather at the time was clear and sunny, the roads were dry, the speed limit on Petawawa Boulevard in the area leading up to Canadian Forces Drive was a posted 50 km/h, and the traffic flow on Petawawa Boulevard was medium to heavy. As Complainant #2 was approaching the intersection of Petawawa Boulevard and Canadian Forces Drive, which is controlled by traffic signal lights, the signal light for traffic on Petawawa Boulevard was green.

At the same time, the SO was driving eastbound on Petawawa Boulevard and entered the left turn lane leading up to the intersection with Canadian Forces Drive, entering the intersection on the green light intending to make a left turn. His left turn signal was on at the time.

According to the data retrieved from their respective vehicles, five seconds prior to impact, Complainant #2’s vehicle was travelling at 63 km/h with the accelerator at 0% and her service brake off, meaning she was neither depressing the accelerator nor the brake, but was travelling forward at a constant velocity in a relatively idle condition. The SO’s police vehicle was travelling at 24 km/h five seconds prior to impact, with the service brake on and the vehicle slowing as it approached the intersection. The police vehicle continued to slow to 7 km/h.

The constant speed of the minivan was maintained for about 1.5 seconds when Complainant #2 applied the brakes and gradually decreased her speed to 57 km/h, 2.5 seconds prior to impact. Just before the collision, at 0.1 seconds prior to impact, Complainant #2’s van was traveling at 60 km/h.

Based upon the calculations performed, at about 2.4 seconds prior to impact, the SO commenced a left turn onto Canadian Forces Drive. At that time, the minivan was approximately 38.9 metres east of his location and approximately 10.4 metres east of the stop line at the intersection.

At two seconds prior to impact, the service brake on the SO’s police vehicle was disengaged and the police vehicle began to accelerate, increasing the rpm quickly and increasing the speed of the vehicle to 23 km/h. The speed of the SO’s police vehicle went from 7 km/h to 23 km/h in 1.5 seconds.

At 1.1 seconds prior to impact, the minivan had a noticeable increase in steering input, meaning that Complainant #2 turned the steering wheel to the right in a clockwise direction, which continued until impact, from which it is inferred that Complainant #2 was attempting to steer to the right to avoid a collision with the police vehicle.

On this evidence, it is clear that Complainant #2 briefly applied the brake as she approached the intersection, but then applied the accelerator gradually increasing the speed of the van back up from 57 km/h to 60 km/h just before the point of impact.

The CDR data and evidence of the witnesses leads to the inference that, despite travelling somewhat above the posted speed limit, the minivan was moving with the flow of traffic.

WO #3, who was in the vehicle directly behind the SO’s police vehicle, observed the SO move forward into the intersection and make a left turn while continuously moving forward without stopping.

Relevant Legislation

Section 320.13, 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 September 25, 2019, at approximately 2:50 p.m., a police cruiser operated by the subject officer, the SO, of the Upper Ottawa Valley Detachment of the OPP, and a minivan operated by Complainant #2, collided in the intersection of Petawawa Boulevard and Canadian Forces Drive in Petawawa. As a result of the collision, Complainant #2 sustained a concussion, while her front seat passenger, Complainant #1, sustained a fracture to his foot.

The offence that arises for consideration in this case is that of dangerous driving causing bodily harm contrary to section 320.13(2) 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. It would appear that the cause of the collision is largely attributable to the SO. The evidence suggests he either did not see Complainant #2’s van as it approached and entered the intersection or, seeing it, assumed wrongly that it was going to come to a stop at the intersection. In either event, the SO’s misjudgment resulted in the officer embarking on a left turn directly into the path of travel of Complainant #2’s van as it entered the intersection on an amber light, leaving Complainant #2 with little to no opportunity to avoid striking the cruiser. Notwithstanding the SO’s apparent responsibility for the collision, however, I am satisfied on balance that the manner in which the officer operated his police vehicle did not rise to the level necessary to meet the definition of dangerous driving.

The fact of a collision, in and of itself, is not sufficient to meet the test of dangerous driving; what is required is a showing that the operation of the motor vehicle in question amounted to a marked deviation from the standard that a reasonable person would have observed. On the record before me, there is an absence of evidence that the SO, prior to making his left turn, was driving without due care and regard for the safety of those around him. There is no evidence, for example, that the SO was driving at a speed excessively above the posted speed limit or conducting any dangerous maneuvers before he commenced his left turn, and it is clear on all the evidence that the SO slowed before beginning his left turn. As such, the case at its highest against the officer amounts to a momentary lapse of attention which, in my view, falls well short of meeting the criminal standard. As such, no criminal charges will issue, and the file is closed.


Date: March 9, 2020

Original signed by

Joseph Martino
Director
Special Investigations Unit