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SIU Director’s Report - Case # 19-TVI-210

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 serious injuries sustained by a 35-year-old man (the “Complainant”).

The Investigation

Notification of the SIU

On August 26, 2019 at 8:30 p.m., the Toronto Police Service (TPS) contacted the SIU and reported an injury to the Complainant.

The TPS advised that on August 26, 2019, at about 4:30 p.m., a TPS police officer conducted a traffic stop on Gerrard Street East in Toronto. As the police officer approached the stopped vehicle, the driver sped away. The police officer returned to his police cruiser and pursued the fleeing vehicle. The vehicle turned south onto Woodfield Road and shortly thereafter collided with two other vehicles. The driver of the fleeing vehicle fled the area on foot. The passenger in the fleeing vehicle was arrested.

The driver of one of the vehicles struck, the Complainant, was transported to St. Michael’s Hospital (SMH) where he was diagnosed as having suffered a fractured left fibula.

The Team

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

Three investigators, two forensic investigators, and a collision reconstructionist were assigned to this investigation. The scene of the collision was processed, photographed and mapped.

Investigators interviewed the Complainant and obtained his authorization for the release of medical information.

A canvass was conducted for witnesses and for closed-circuit television (CCTV) footage.

Four civilian witnesses were interviewed and CCTV footage secured from three residences and the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC).

One subject officer and one witness officer were designated and interviewed.

Complainant:

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


Civilian Witnesses

CW #1 Interviewed
CW #2 Interviewed
CW #3 Interviewed
CW #4 Interviewed 

Witness Officers

WO Interviewed

Additionally, the notes from one other officer were received and reviewed.


Subject Officers

SO Interviewed, and notes received and reviewed


Evidence

The Scene

There were two scenes associated with the incident.

Scene 1

Scene 1


At approximately 4:23 p.m., a TPS police officer stopped a black Chevrolet Equinox on Fairford Street, Toronto. When the police officer approached the driver, the driver put the Equinox in gear, left the scene, and travelled westbound. The Equinox approached Woodfield Road, turned left, and struck a parked car: a grey Ford Focus. Tire marks were observed leading from the intersection to the damaged Ford Focus. 

Scene 2

Scene 2


The Equinox continued south on Woodfield Road and collided with a westbound vehicle on Gerrard Street East. At this location, Gerrard Street East ran in an east-west direction and Woodfield Road ran in a north-south direction; both roads were asphalt paved and the intersection was controlled by a stop sign for southbound traffic on Woodfield Road.

The Equinox was on the west side sidewalk of Woodfield Road, facing south. It had collided with a large flower planter box and a building. A grey Honda Civic was located on the east sidewalk of Woodfield Road facing south; it had collided with a property divider wall. There were tire marks from Gerrard Street East to both vehicles. The distance from the initial collision scene on Woodfield Road to Gerrard Street East was approximately 300 metres.

Forensic Evidence


Automatic Vehicle Locator (AVL) / Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) data from TPS police cruiser


Figure 1 – Satellite image and map-overlay from Google Earth, modified with yellow “pins” to indicate the location of the police cruiser as established by the AVL/GPS data.

Figure 1 – Satellite image and map-overlay from Google Earth, modified with yellow “pins” to indicate the location of the police cruiser as established by the AVL/GPS data.


The AVL data were entered into Google Earth and a detailed path of the involved police cruiser was developed:
  • 4:21:16 p.m., stationary on Coxwell Avenue just south of Upper Gerrard Street at an indicated speed of 0 km/h;
  • 4:22:30 p.m., westbound on Fairford Avenue approaching Craven Road at an indicated speed of 19 km/h;
  • 4:22:41 p.m., westbound on Fairford Avenue approaching Hiawatha Road, at an indicated speed of 19 km/h [location of the traffic stop of the Chevrolet Equinox];
  • 4:23:35 p.m., westbound on Fairford Avenue in the area of Hiawatha Road at an indicated speed of 19 km/h;
  • 4:23:41 p.m., southbound on Woodfield Road near 349 Woodfield Road at an indicated speed of 25 km/h;
  • 4:23:59 p.m., southbound on Woodfield Road near 349 Woodfield Road at an indicated speed of 25 km/h;
  • 4:24:07 p.m., eastbound through the alley at the rear of 279 Woodfield Road at an indicated speed of 16 km/h; and
  • 4:24:24 p.m., stationary on Hiawatha Road near #89 [known to be the location of the arrest of CW #1].

Video/Audio/Photographic Evidence


TPS In-Car Camera System (ICCS) from Police Cruiser


On August 26, 2019, at 4:22:09 p.m., a marked TPS police cruiser, operated by the SO, turned westbound onto Fairford Avenue from Coxwell Avenue. A black Chevrolet Equinox was westbound leaving the stop sign at Rhodes Avenue. The police cruiser stopped at the stop sign. The Equinox stopped at an all-way stop sign at Ashdale Avenue with pedestrians crossing the street south to north. The police cruiser stopped at the stop sign. The Equinox passed a cyclist also westbound on the north side of Fairford Avenue. The police cruiser’s emergency lights were activated.

The right turn signal on the Equinox was activated and it pulled over to the north curb and stopped. The police cruiser stopped approximately six metres behind. The SO exited his police cruiser and walked towards the driver’s door of the Equinox. The Equinox pulled away quickly from the curb and went westbound on Fairford Avenue. The SO turned and ran back to his police cruiser. The Equinox turned southbound on Woodfield Road and the SO pulled away from the curb and started westbound. The emergency lights were still on, but no siren.

The police cruiser turned southbound on Woodfield Road; the Equinox, still southbound, was approximately 91.5 metres away. There was a damaged Ford Focus just south of Fairford Avenue on the west side of Woodfield Road, pedestrian traffic was light on sidewalks, and there was no other vehicle traffic on Woodfield Road. Cars were continuously parked on the west side of the street and one construction truck was parked on the east side of the street, mid-block.

The Equinox approached the stop sign at Gerrard Street East. The police cruiser had emergency lights activated, but no siren. The Equinox went through the stop sign, without stopping, and collided with a Honda Civic car travelling westbound on Gerrard Street East [now known to have been operated by the Complainant]. The police cruiser was south of 337 Woodfield Road, approximately 176 metres away.

The police cruiser stopped at the stop sign at Gerrard Street East and then crossed the intersection with emergency lights activated and no siren. The Equinox collided with the eastside of 280 Woodfield Road and came to a stop. Two people ran southeast into the alley at the rear of 279 Woodfield Road. A second woman exited the Equinox, walked to the intersection, and left on the rear of a motorcycle. The Honda Civic operated by the Complainant had come to rest at the entrance to the alley behind 279 Woodfield Road. The siren on the police cruiser was activated and the cruiser entered the rear alley of 279 Woodfield Road. 

CCTV Footage from Residence #1


The residence was positioned on the east side of Coxwell Avenue and captured north and southbound vehicular traffic. At 4:14:43 p.m., the TPS police cruiser drove southbound on Coxwell Avenue and made a left turn into the driveway of 309 Coxwell Avenue, before turning around and continuing northbound out of camera view. The emergency lights were not activated.

CCTV Footage from Residence #2


279 Woodfield Road was an apartment complex situated on the southeast corner of Woodfield Road and Gerrard Street East. The Complainant’s vehicle came into camera view, travelled southbound on Woodfield Road, from Gerrard Street East, and came to rest on the east side of the curb. The final resting position of the Complainant’s vehicle was obstructed by foliage. A man ran southbound on Woodfield Road, before turning left into an alleyway behind 279 Woodfield Road. Directly behind him was CW #1. About 14 seconds after the Complainant’s vehicle came into view, a marked grey TPS police cruiser drove southbound on Woodfield Road with its emergency lights activated and made a left turn into the alleyway. The Complainant sat on the curb behind his vehicle as several bystanders gathered around him. A second police cruiser drove northbound on Woodfield Road and arrived on scene. Fire services arrived on scene and tended to the Complainant.

CCTV Footage from Residence #3


This building was located on the northwest corner of Woodfield Road and Gerrard Street East. The camera did not cover the intersection. At 4:45:53 p.m., a dark-coloured SUV collided with the Complainant’s vehicle just out of camera view; the two vehicles came into camera view just after the collision. The dark-coloured SUV travelled in a southwest direction into the corner of the Islamic Book Store and Souvenirs, while the Complainant’s vehicle travelled in a southbound direction out of camera view. The dark-coloured SUV had severe front-end damage, while the Complainant’s vehicle had severe damage to the front passenger side door.

At 4:45:57 p.m., a man exited the driver side door and fled on foot in a southeast direction and out of camera view, followed by CW #1. At 4:46:07 p.m., a marked grey TPS cruiser arrived on scene, with its emergency lights activated, and continued southbound on Woodfield Road, out of camera view. As the police cruiser drove south on Woodfield Road, a second woman wearing red pants exited the rear passenger side door of the dark SUV and walked to the southeast corner of the intersection.

CCTV Footage from the TTC


Investigators obtained CCTV recordings from four TTC streetcars and buses within the area of the incident from 4:00 to 4:40 p.m., on August 26, 2019; none of the CCTV footage obtained was of evidential value to this investigation.

Police Communications Recordings

  • Counter time 00:05 seconds- police cruiser- “I’ve just had a vehicle take off from me.” There are sounds of squealing tires heard, immediately following the transmission;
  • Counter time 00:09 seconds- police cruiser - “Southbound Woodfield toward Gerrard.” Tire sounds are still heard in the background;
  • Counter time 00:14 seconds- TPS Dispatcher- “Southbound Woodfield towards Gerrard. Are you in pursuit?”;
  • Counter time 00:21 seconds- police cruiser “Ah, vehicle just crashed, vehicle at Woodfield and Gerrard. Ah, take off running southbound Woodfield, male and female, approximately 18. Male Black blue hoodie” (sound of siren);
  • Counter time 00:44 seconds- police cruiser – “They’re in the alley behind 259 Woodfield.” (siren on in background);
  • Counter time 00:50 seconds- TPS Dispatcher- “So that again is 259 Woodfield?”;
  • Counter time 00:55 seconds - police cruiser - “Female southbound Woodfield, the male is behind 279 Woodfield”;
  • Counter time 01:04 seconds - TPS Dispatcher- “Female southbound Woodfield, male behind 269 Woodfield. Are you continuing your foot pursuit of the female or are you with the male?”;
  • Counter time 01:29 seconds - police cruiser - “I have the female in custody, male still outstanding, ran toward Gerrard from the rear of 279 Woodfield, blue hoodie, blue track pants, I think, male black, corn rows, around 20”;
  • Counter time 02:23 seconds - police cruiser - “Blue or black, the car is abandoned, it is the same plate as I put in my vehicle stop, I pulled it over and then it took off”; and
  • Counter time 07:41 seconds- TPS Dispatcher- “Okay, the female is in custody and the outstanding suspect is male black, about 18 years old, blue hoodie, blue track pants, went toward Gerrard from Woodfield.”

Materials obtained from Police Service

Upon request, the SIU obtained and reviewed the following materials and documents from the TPS:
  • Communications Recordings,
  • Intergraph Computer-Assisted Dispatch Report;
  • ICCS recording from TPS police cruiser;
  • AVL/GPS Data from TPS police cruiser;
  • TPS Procedure - Suspect Apprehension Pursuit, and
  • Notes of the WO, SO and an undesignated officer.

Materials obtained from Other Sources

Investigators also obtained and reviewed the following materials:
  • Medical Records from SMH;
  • Photographs taken by civilian;
  • CCTV from three residences; and
  • CCTV from the TTC.

Incident Narrative

The material events in question emerge clearly on the evidence collected by the SIU, which included interviews with the Complainant, four civilian witnesses, the SO, and one witness officer. The investigation also benefitted significantly from AVL/GPS data and the in-car ICCS footage from the SO’s police vehicle, as well as a record of the communications from the relevant time frame, and CCTV footage from various sources in the area of the incident.

On August 26, 2019, at 4:21:16 [1] p.m., the SO was stationary in his police vehicle on Coxwell Avenue, just south of Upper Gerrard Street in Toronto, when a Chevrolet Equinox came to his attention. The SO observed the Equinox speed off from the curb very quickly, spinning its tires, and then heading in the direction the SO was parked. As the SO continued to observe the motor vehicle, it made an un-signaled lane change. The SO formed the grounds to believe that the vehicle was being operated carelessly in contravention of the Highway Traffic Act (HTA) and decided to stop it and investigate.

The SO followed the Equinox onto Fairford Avenue and activated his emergency lighting system, in order to signal to the driver of the Equinox to pull over and stop, which he then did. Once stopped, the SO entered his location into his in-car computer along with the fact that he was conducting a vehicle stop, exited his cruiser and approached the Equinox. As the SO neared the driver’s door, the driver suddenly sped off westbound on Fairford Avenue.

The SO ran back to his vehicle and began to follow the Equinox in order to alert other police vehicles in the area of the location of the Equinox, in hopes that they might be able to conduct a vehicle stop. The SO also notified his dispatcher that a vehicle had just taken off on him and continuously updated the dispatcher as to the vehicle’s location and what was happening, as events unfolded. [2]

The Equinox was travelling, at that point, at speeds ranging from 60 – 70 km/h [3] in a 50 km/h zone and was approximately 90 metres [4] ahead of the SO’s police vehicle. The SO, while travelling on Fairford Avenue, at no time exceeded a speed of 19 km/h, resulting in the distance between himself and the Equinox increasing.

The driver of the Equinox made a left turn onto Woodfield Road, where he struck a parked car. The driver then sped toward Gerrard Street East in a posted 40 km/h zone. His estimated speed was between 60 to 70 km/h, while the SO’s police vehicle was described as having its emergency lighting system activated, but no siren. The data from the SO’s cruiser confirmed that he maintained a speed of 25 km/h while on Woodfield Road.

At the intersection of Woodfield Road and Gerrard Street East, the driver failed to stop for the stop sign, unlawfully entering the intersection and colliding with the Complainant’s Honda Civic, which was travelling westbound on Gerrard Street East.

At the time of the collision, the SO’s police vehicle was more than 150 metres away on Woodfield Road and 14 seconds behind the Equinox [5].

Relevant Legislation

Section 320.13, 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

On August 26, 2019, the SO attempted to stop a motor vehicle, a Chevrolet Equinox SUV for HTA infractions. While the driver initially pulled his motor vehicle over to the curb, when the SO exited his police vehicle and approached, he sped off in the Equinox. The SO then ran back to his cruiser and followed. Moments later, the Equinox first struck a parked motor vehicle, then continued on, failing to stop for a stop sign, and collided with a Honda Civic driven by the Complainant, and finally striking the wall of the Islamic Book Store and Souvenirs. The Complainant was transported to hospital, where he was diagnosed with serious injuries, including fractures of his left leg. On my assessment of the evidence, there are no reasonable grounds to believe that the SO committed a criminal offence in connection with the circumstances surrounding the Complainant’s injuries.

The only offence which could arise 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. On a review of the record, there is little if anything in the conduct the SO that gives cause for concern and I am satisfied that the manner in which the SO operated his police vehicle fell at all times within the limits of care prescribed by the criminal law.

The SO’s speed was minimal throughout his engagement with the Equinox, topping out at 25 km/h, well below the posted speed limits on Fairford Avenue and Woodfield Road. He stopped at all controlled intersections and maintained a safe distance well back of the vehicle he was following at all times. In the circumstances, it cannot be said that he unduly pushed the driver of the Equinox; on the contrary, the officer left the driver sufficient space and opportunity to reduce his speed and adopt a safer course, had he been so inclined. Would it have been advisable to refrain from following the Equinox at all? Perhaps. After all, the reason for the intended stop was an HTA offence. Be that as it may, this singular indiscretion, if it be such, was certainly not enough in the circumstances of this case to amount to a marked deviation from a reasonable level of care.

In the final analysis, in the context of the SO’s very brief engagement in time and distance with the Equinox, notable for the officer’s careful driving throughout, there is no basis for proceeding with criminal charges, and the file is closed.


Date: April 21, 2020

Electronically approved by

Joseph Martino
Director
Special Investigations Unit

Endnotes

  • 1) All noted times are derived from the ICCS footage and the AVL/GPS data from the SO’s motor vehicle. [Back to text]
  • 2) Confirmed by the radio communications recording and log. [Back to text]
  • 3) The estimated speed of the Equinox is based on the observations of witnesses [Back to text]
  • 4) Derived from an analysis of the ICCS footage from the SO’s police vehicle. [Back to text]
  • 5) Based on an analysis of the CCTV footage. [Back to text]