Cruiser and motorbikeRunnersCruiser accident
thick blue gradient line

SIU Director’s Report - Case # 19-PVI-203

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 the injuries that a 24-year-old woman (“Complainant #1”) and a 32-year-old man (“Complainant #2”) suffered.

The Investigation

Notification of the SIU

On August 23, 2019, at 5:30 a.m., the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) reported the following: on August 23, 2019, at 1:53 a.m., an OPP police officer was conducting RIDE checks in Huntsville. A vehicle failed to stop for the check, and the police officer activated his emergency lights and siren and briefly pursued the vehicle before terminating. The vehicle continued along Main Street West for about 150 metres and collided with a parked car at Main Street West and Yonge Street. The driver of the vehicle, Complainant #2, was taken to a hospital with cuts to his abdomen and possible internal injuries. Complainant #2 refused treatment. The passenger, Complainant #1, was also taken to a hospital and was diagnosed with a broken ankle, clavicle, and possible head injuries.

The Team

Number of SIU Investigators assigned: 4
Number of SIU Forensic Investigators assigned: 2
Number of SIU Collision Reconstructionists assigned: 1

Complainants

Complainant #1 24-year-old female interviewed, medical records obtained and reviewed
Complainant #2 32-year-old male interviewed, medical records obtained and reviewed


Civilian Witnesses

CW Not interviewed [1] 

Witness Officers

WO #1 Interviewed
WO #2 Notes reviewed, interview deemed not necessary
WO #3 Notes reviewed, interview deemed not necessary
WO #4 Notes reviewed, interview deemed not necessary


Subject Officers

SO Declined to be interviewed and declined to submit notes, as is the subject officer’s legal right.


Evidence

The Scene

On August 23, 2019, the SO attempted to stop the Audi that Complainant #2 was driving at the exit of Highway 11 and Aspdin / Main Street West. When the Audi failed to stop for the SO, it continued east on Main Street West, which was a two-lane paved asphalt road with one eastbound lane and one westbound lane. The posted speed limit was 50 km/h. As one traveled east on Main Street West, the road curved more to the south and the grade elevated. From where the SO attempted to stop the Audi, to where the Audi crashed into a parked vehicle, the distance was approximately 1.2 kilometres and the roads were dry.

The Audi was found facing in a northerly direction on the north sidewalk of Main Street West in front of a house. There was significant front-end damage. A black-coloured pickup truck was found facing in a northwest direction on the north side shoulder of the road, also in front of the same house. It was believed that this truck was initially parked facing west on the north shoulder of the road. There was significant front-end damage to the truck. A utility trailer was attached to the rear of the truck; however, due to the impact, it was jack-knifed in a counterclockwise direction. A utility pole, located between houses on Main Street West, had a gouge and scrapes on it, and a tire mark nearby which curved in an easterly path to the right front of the pickup truck.

A tire mark, which started at 7.2 metres south of the north edge of the pavement of Main Street West, was found directly south of a utility pole. This mark, paralleled by a shorter tire mark, followed a northeast path ending just short of the damaged utility pole, in front of the house where the Audi was found.


Scene Diagram

Video/Audio/Photographic Evidence

The SIU canvassed the area for any video or audio recordings, and photographic evidence, and was able to locate the following sources:
  • Video footage from a Residence on Main Street West; and
  • Video footage from a Business on Main Street West.


CCTV Footage from a Residence on Main Street West


On August 23, 2019, at 1:29 a.m., video and audio commenced. The slow flow of traffic could be heard. Vehicles that travelled east on Main Street West could be seen braking as they approached a curve in the roadway.

At 1:51:47 a.m., the sound of a vehicle could be heard travelling at a high rate of speed, approaching the residence. At 1:51:52 a.m., a vehicle [now known to be an Audi driven by Complainant #2] could be seen driving east on Main Street West at a high rate of speed; the brake lights of the vehicle appeared to be activated as it went out of camera view. The sound of someone moaning could be heard. At 1:51:54 a.m., the sound of screeching could be heard just prior to the sound of a loud crash [it is known that the Audi collided into a parked pickup truck in the area of an address on Main Street West].

At 1:53:12 a.m. (about 78 seconds after the collision) a vehicle [now believed to be driven by the SO] travelled east on Main Street West, at what appeared to be a normal speed, and braked as if it was slowing or stopping at the collision; the emergency lights were not activated. This was the first vehicle to be seen on the video to drive towards the collision.

At 1:53:24 a.m., a vehicle, apparently following a few seconds behind the SO, and consistent with a taxi cab, travelled east towards the collision.

At 1:54:19 a.m. (about two minutes and 25 seconds after the collision) a second vehicle, which appeared to be a cruiser, travelled east rather quickly and slowed aggressively enough to brake and cause a “chattering” sound; the emergency lights did not appear to be activated. Voices could be heard but were not discernable.

At 1:54:44 a.m. (about two minutes and 50 seconds after the collision) a third vehicle (which possibly was a cruiser) could be seen travelling east; the emergency lights did not appear to be activated. At 1:54:59 a.m., just out of camera range to the east, this vehicle appeared to make a U-turn, briefly illuminating a person standing on the north sidewalk. Now with rear flashing lights activated, the cruiser drove westbound up to and beside the person on the north sidewalk. A man’s voice asked who the person standing on the sidewalk was or what he was doing. The person said something to the effect that he was “just seeing what was going on.”

At 1:55:35 a.m., a vehicle [possibly another police vehicle] travelled east and braked and slowed as if it had arrived at the collision scene. Voices were heard with someone telling another person he had seen the Audi which was being driven by Complainant #2, “I see the car…I see the car go by,” and, “Where did it go?”


CCTV Footage from a Business on Main Street West


On August 23, 2019, video footage commenced at 1:52 a.m. At 1:52:09 a.m., an SUV-type cruiser [possibly operated by the SO], with emergency lights activated, drove east on Main Street West; the cruiser then braked and slowed down. At 1:52:15 a.m., the cruiser made a U-turn just east of camera view and then travelled west on Main Street West. At 1:52:31 a.m., the video ended.

OPP GPS Data Summary

The following is a summary of the Automatic Vehicle Locator (AVL) / Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) data that was obtained from the mobile tablet that was used in the SO’s cruiser on August 23, 2019:

The SO pursued the Audi, which was driven by Complainant #2, eastbound on Main Street West and, after traveling 496 metres in 22 seconds, attained a maximum speed of 130 km/h for less than two seconds.

The next eight seconds, the SO drove 178 metres and slowed his cruiser to about 23 km/h. For the next 204 metres and within 18 seconds, the SO’s speeds fluctuated between 27 km/h to 61 km/h before he turned his cruiser around and drove westbound, at speeds between 8 km/h and 74 km/h, away from the collision scene on Main Street West for the next 25 seconds.

About 14 seconds later, the SO drove into the parking lot of a business and then drove east again on Main Street West. About 27 seconds later, the SO reached a speed of 95 km/h and slowed to a stop at the scene.

Communications Recordings

On August 23, 2019, at about 1:51 a.m., the SO advised the communications centre that a vehicle [now known to be an Audi which Complainant #2 was driving] had taken off on him and that he was not in pursuit. At this time, the SO requested additional units and further explained that the vehicle was an Audi which Complainant #2 was driving.

About a minute and five seconds later, the SO advised that the Audi had been involved in a collision on Main Street West and requested EMS (Emergency Medical Services) and the canine unit. The SO advised that Complainant #2 was the driver and Complainant #1 was the passenger.

About a minute and ten seconds later, the SO advised that he was with a woman at the back of a residence on Main Street West; the SO could be heard yelling, “Put your hands up.”

About eight minutes and 43 seconds later, WO #1 could be heard requesting an ambulance at Highland Court Motel and advising that she had Complainant #2 in custody.

Expert Evidence


Vehicle Information Summary


The SO was operating a black and white Chevrolet Tahoe which had subdued OPP markings. During an exterior inspection of the vehicle, there was no evidence of fresh damage on it.

The model year of the Audi was 2008 and it was not supported by the Crash Data Retrieval tool. Based on the SIU Reconstructionist’s measurements and analysis using the tire marks found, it was calculated that the Audi’s speed range was between 162 km/h and 184 km/h prior to it losing control and crossing onto the westbound lane and ultimately colliding with the parked pickup truck.

Materials obtained from Police Service

Upon request, the SIU obtained and reviewed the following materials and documents from the OPP:
  • 2019 08 23 - Arrest Report of Complainant #1 by WO #1;
  • 2019 08 23 - Arrest Report of Complainant #2 by WO #1;
  • Emergency Response Team Operational Reports
  • 2019 08 23 – Unmanned Aerial System Flight Report;
  • 2019 08 23 - Canine Report
  • 2019 08 26 - List of Officers on Occurrence;
  • 2019 09 03 - Property Report for Complainant #1;
  • 2019 09 10 - Arrest Report (2) of Complainant #1;
  • Computer-Assisted Dispatch Messaging
  • Email from OPP re serving designation letters to officers-2019-09-17;
  • Email thread re RIDE in Huntsville-Sept 10, 2019;
  • Huntsville Motor Vehicle Collision Overview;
  • Huntsville OP19371596;
  • Notes from all WOs;
  • Records Management System Occurrences (email from OPP)-2019-09-23;
  • Communications Recordings;
  • Cruiser AVL/GPS Data;
  • Standard Operating Procedure-RIDE; and
  • Unit History-Ontario Provincial Police-Submitted August 28 2019.

Materials obtained from Other Sources

The following documents were also received from other parties:
  • Complainant #2’s medical record;
  • Complainant #1’s medical record;
  • Video footage from a house on Main Street West; and
  • Video footage from a business on Main Street West.

Incident Narrative

On August 23, 2019, at approximately 1:50 a.m., the SO was manning a RIDE check program at the Aspdin Road exit from Highway 11 in the City of Huntsville; it was his intention to stop a silver Audi for the express purpose of determining if it was involved in criminal activity. When the Audi approached the RIDE checkpoint, the SO, who was standing outside of his marked police vehicle, signaled the Audi to stop; the driver, Complainant #2, however, sped off, almost striking the SO. The SO entered his police vehicle and followed. Shortly thereafter, Complainant #2 crashed the Audi into a vehicle parked on Main Street West.

As a result of the collision, the front seat passenger in the Audi, Complainant #1, sustained a metatarsal fracture and a clavicular fracture. While Complainant #2 sustained a laceration to his abdomen, he refused medical treatment and the precise nature of his injuries is unknown.

The SIU’s investigation into the circumstances surrounding the serious injury sustained by Complainant #1 included interviews with Complainant #1, Complainant #2 and WO #1. The SO declined to provide a statement or his notes to investigators, as was his legal right. The SIU also reviewed the AVL/GPS data from the SO’s police vehicle, the police communications recordings, and video footage from two different premises along Complainant #2’s route; additionally, an SIU Reconstructionist took measurements and analyzed the tire marks, based on which he prepared a report.

On August 22, 2019, the SO set up what was referred to as a “simulated” RIDE program checkpoint at the Aspdin Road exit from Highway 11, in Huntsville. It does not appear that this was a legitimate RIDE program; rather, it was simply meant to appear to be a RIDE program for the express purpose of stopping Complainant #2’s motor vehicle in order to further a criminal investigation. In any event, when WO #1 became aware that Complainant #2 was heading in the SO’s direction, she alerted the SO, and he prepared to stop Complainant #2 by placing pylons on the roadway and activating his emergency lighting system. Additionally, the SO kept the line to WO #1 open and placed his cell phone in his vest allowing WO #1 to hear what was going on.

Shortly thereafter, the silver Audi approached the SO’s location and appeared to be slowing, following which Complainant #2 accelerated and sped off. The SO was heard to yell at the motor vehicle, “Complainant #2, stop!” in an “amped up” voice. The SO then advised WO #1 that he had almost been struck by the Audi.

The SO immediately entered his police vehicle, with emergency lighting system still activated, and drove after the Audi, which was travelling at a high rate of speed. At 1:51 a.m., the SO notified the communications centre that Complainant #2 had failed to stop but that the SO was not in pursuit. Shortly thereafter, Complainant #2 lost control of the vehicle and crashed into a parked truck. Upon coming across the collision scene, the SO radioed that the Audi had collided with a parked truck and requested EMS attend. He also informed the communications centre that Complainant #2 and Complainant #1 had fled the scene and requested the attendance of a canine unit.

The distance from the location of the attempted stop of the Audi to the collision scene was 1.2 kilometres; the roads were dry at the time. The conclusion of the SIU Collision Reconstructionist was that the Audi was travelling at speeds between 162 and 184 km/h just prior to losing control, crossing into the westbound lane of traffic on Main Street West, and colliding with a parked pickup truck; the posted speed limit on Main Street West was 50 km/h.

The data from the SO’s police vehicle indicated that the SO pursued the Audi for 496 metres and a time span of 22 seconds, reaching a maximum speed of 130 km/h, which he maintained for only two seconds. For the next eight seconds, the SO drastically reduced his speed to 23 km/h, covering 178 metres. The SO’s speed then fluctuated between 27 and 61 km/h for the next 204 metres and a time span of 18 seconds, at which point he turned his cruiser around and drove back westbound at speeds between 8 and 74 km/h. He travelled in a direction opposite than that taken by Complainant #2 for the next 25 seconds.

The video footage first revealed, at 1:51:47 a.m., the sound of a vehicle travelling at a high rate of speed, followed by the Audi entering the camera range at a high rate of speed and approaching a residence on Main Street West; it then left the view of the camera. At 1:51:54 a.m., the sound of screeching tires could be heard, just prior to a loud crash. Immediately leading up to and at the time of the collision, no police vehicle can be seen on the recording. The SO’s police vehicle is only seen approaching the collision scene 78 seconds after the collision, at 1:53:12 a.m., when it enters camera view at a normal rate of speed and is then seen to slow or stop at the collision; the emergency lights were not operational at that time. Based on this evidence, I conclude that the SO pursued the Audi at speeds up to 130 km/h for a period of 22 seconds, at which point he appears to have terminated, slowed, and finally turned around. The span of the pursuit only covered 496 metres of the 1.2 kilometres which Complainant #2 covered before losing control and crashing. It is clear, from both the conclusion of the SIU Reconstructionist and the video footage, that Complainant #2 was travelling at a far greater speed than the maximum which the SO reached, and only maintained for two seconds, and that the gap between the two vehicles was never closed, with the SO nowhere in sight at the time that Complainant #2 crashed his vehicle.

Relevant Legislation

Section 216 (1), Highway Traffic Act -- Power of police officer to stop vehicles

216 (1) A police officer, in the lawful execution of his or her duties and responsibilities, may require the driver of a vehicle, other than a bicycle, to stop and the driver of a vehicle, when signaled or requested to stop by a police officer who is readily identifiable as such, shall immediately come to a safe stop.


Section 128(13)(b), Highway Traffic Act – Police vehicles and speeding

128(13) The speed limits prescribed under this section or any regulation or by-law passed under this section do not apply to,

(b) a police department vehicle being used in the lawful performance of a police officer’s duties.

Section 320.13 (1), Criminal Code – Dangerous operation 

320.13 (1) Everyone commits an offence who operates a conveyance in a manner that, having regard to all of the circumstances, is dangerous to the public.

Analysis and Director's Decision

The offence that arises for consideration in this case is that of dangerous driving contrary to section 320.13(1) 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. I am satisfied that the manner in which the officer operated his police vehicle fell within the limits of care prescribed by the criminal law. At a speed of 130 km/h, the top speed reached by the SO during his brief pursuit, the SO was traveling at over twice the speed limit. That said, it bears noting that the SO quickly reduced his speed after only 22 seconds. The SO’s velocity is also mitigated to an extent by section 128(13)(b) of the Highway Traffic Act , which, while it does not provide an officer carte blanche to exceed the speed limit without regard to public safety considerations, does allow an officer to speed where the officer is in the lawful performance of his or her duty. The SO was clearly in the exercise of his duty at the time. Whether or not the “simulated” RIDE checkpoint was a legitimate tactic in furtherance of a criminal investigation, [2] the fact remains that Complainant #2 was under a legal obligation to stop his vehicle having been directed to do so by a police officer. When he did not, the SO was authorized to initiate a pursuit under O. Reg 266/10, governing police pursuits in the province.

It should also be noted that there is no indication that the SO ever actually endangered, by the manner of his driving, any third-party motorists or pedestrians along Main Street West. Nor did the officer put undue pressure on Complainant #2. In fact, the evidence indicates that the SO was at all times a fair distance behind the Audi, allowing Complainant #2 every opportunity to reduce his speed and adopt a safer course. Indeed, the SO had abandoned any attempts to stop the Audi before it crashed.

In the final analysis, in the context of the SO’s short-lived engagement in this matter, notable for his brief pursuit of the Audi at high speeds that was quickly terminated, I have no reasonable grounds to believe that the officer either caused or contributed to the collision in question, or otherwise drove dangerously in violation of the Criminal Code. Accordingly, there is no basis for proceeding with criminal charges in this case and the file is closed.

Date: April 14, 2020
Electronically approved by

Joseph Martino
Director
Special Investigations Unit

Footnotes

  • 1) The CW was not interviewed because she was the next-of-kin to Complainant #1 and was not present at the time of the collision. [Back to text]
  • 2) R. v. Dedman, [1985] 2 SCR 2. [Back to text]