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SIU Director’s Report - Case # 19-OVI-220

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 the injuries that a 35-year-old man (the “Complainant”) suffered.

The Investigation

Notification of the SIU

On September 11, 2019, at 4:00 a.m., the Sarnia Police Service (SPS) notified the SIU of the serious injury sustained by the 35-year-old Complainant subsequent to a single vehicle collision. The SPS reported that at 3:30 a.m., on September 11, 2019, the SPS received a call for a stolen motorcycle. One police officer patrolling the area located the stolen vehicle on Campbell Street and briefly initiated a pursuit, utilizing his emergency lights and siren. The police officer terminated the pursuit upon instruction from the road supervisor. The motorcycle was soon located, having crashed on a median, ejecting the Complainant, who suffered a fractured right humerus bone.

The Team

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

Complainants

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


Witness Officers

WO #1 Interviewed
WO #2 Interviewed


Subject Officers

SO Declined to be interviewed and declined to submit notes, as is the subject officer’s legal right. [1]


Evidence

Scene Diagram

Scene diagram


Pursuit Route

An SIU forensic investigator (FI) video-recorded the route from Mitton Street South and Campbell Street, east to Indian Road. The total distance was 1.8 kilometres. The roads were in good repair with one 50 km/h speed sign posted. In the area of Mitton Street, the area was a combination of residential and light industrial but there was less residential as you approach Indian Road.

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 three closed-circuit television (CCTV) sources within a business adjacent to scene, designated channels 1, 2 and 4.


CCTV Footage from Channel 1


The incident occurs at 3:22:30 a.m. and the video depicts the actual collision. The Complainant is seen beside the downed motorcycle. The SO arrives at the intersection of Campbell Street and Indian Road at 3:22:52 a.m., followed by WO #1 at 3:23:01 a.m.


CCTV Footage from Channel 2


This segment is from Campbell Street and shows the Complainant enter the frame at 3:22:26 a.m. The SO arrives at 3:22:44 a.m. and WO #1 at 3:22:51 a.m.


CCTV Footage from Channel 4


This segment shows the excessive speed of the motorcycle prior to the collision and the ejection of the Complainant.

The Report of the SIU Collision Reconstructionist

At about 3:20 a.m., September 11, 2019, WO #1 was driving a 2017 marked Dodge Charger SPS eastbound on Campbell Street following a 2006 Kawasaki motorcycle operated eastbound by the Complainant at a high rate of speed. At the same time, the SO operated a 2017 marked Dodge Charger SPS westbound on Campbell Street towards the Complainant who was approaching him. The emergency lighting was activated on both cruisers.

The Complainant passed the SO and then lost control of the motorcycle during a right turn at Indian Road South. The Complainant was thrown from the motorcycle and he and the motorcycle came to rest on a grassed island just west of Indian Road South on the south side of Campbell Street.

The Complainant received serious injuries from the collision.

1.1 Road Layout

Campbell Street is a two-lane paved asphalt road which permits one lane of eastbound and one lane of westbound vehicular movement. The opposing lanes are delineated with intermittent yellow paint lines and a solid yellow painted line at the approach to Indian Road South.

Campbell Street ends in “T” fashion at near right angles on the west side of Indian Road South and is controlled with a stop sign. A designated right turn ramp facilitates eastbound Campbell Street to southbound Indian Road South vehicle movement. A designated right turn ramp facilitates southbound Indian Road South vehicle movement to westbound Campbell Street. A grassed boulevard acts as an island separating the two ramps from the roadways. The road is bordered by concrete curbs.

Indian Road South is a four-lane paved asphalt road which permits two lanes of southbound and two lanes of northbound vehicular traffic. The opposing lanes are delineated with solid yellow paint lines and the lanes permitting travel in the same direction are delineated with intermittent white paint lines. The posted speed limit is 50 km/h. There are street lights on the west side of Indian Road South and at all ramps at the intersection with Campbell Street.

Figure 1 - This photograph is a GoogleEarth® depiction of the scene. The red arrow indicates the path taken by the Complainant and the red circle depicts the area where the Kawasaki motorcycle came to rest.

Figure 1 - This photograph is a GoogleEarth® depiction of the scene. The red arrow indicates the path taken by the Complainant and the red circle depicts the area where the Kawasaki motorcycle came to rest.



1.2 Weather Data

Road and weather conditions were considered ideal.

1.3 Scene Evidence

The SIU Reconstructionist attended the scene at 8:35 a.m., on Wednesday, September 11, 2019. The weather was clear and the roads were dry. A 2006 Kawasaki ZX6R was lying on its left side facing southeast on the grassed island just west of Indian Road South. The rear axle was located approximate centre of mass 1.7 metres south of the south edge of the pavement of Campbell Street and 1.8 metres west of the west edge of the pavement of Indian Road South. The front axle was located 2.6 metres south of the south edge of the pavement of Campbell Street and 0.6 metres west of the west edge of the pavement of Indian Road South.

A tire mark began 2.0 metres north of the south edge of the pavement of Campbell Street and 32.9 metres west of the west edge of the pavement of Indian Road South. It followed an eastbound path to the north side curb of the southbound ramp for 5.4 metres where fresh carbon black from a tire was transferred to the side of the curb.

A fresh gouge in the grass started 0.7 metres south of the south edge of the pavement of Campbell Street and 24.2 metres west of the west edge of the pavement of Indian Road South following an easterly path for 0.5 metres. Several other gouges east of this mark which were similar in length followed an eastbound path towards the motorcycle.

The trunk of a freshly broken tree sapling was located at the south edge of the pavement of Campbell Street and 18.1 metres west of the west edge of the pavement of Indian Road South. The path taken by the gouge evidence in the grass created by the motorcycle was 26.4 metres long. Another broken tree sapling was located 2.0 metres south of the south edge of the pavement of Campbell Street and 11.3 metres west of the west edge of the pavement of Indian Road South.

Figure 2 - This photograph was taken by SIU FI and faces east on Campbell Street where the southbound ramp to Indian Road South commences. The blue cones depict the tire mark made by the front tire and the green cones depict the tire mark made by the rear tire of the Kawasaki motorcycle. The orange cones depict the gouges in the grass. The red circle depicts the resting location of the Kawasaki motorcycle.

Figure 2 - This photograph was taken by SIU FI and faces east on Campbell Street where the southbound ramp to Indian Road South commences. The blue cones depict the tire mark made by the front tire and the green cones depict the tire mark made by the rear tire of the Kawasaki motorcycle. The orange cones depict the gouges in the grass. The red circle depicts the resting location of the Kawasaki motorcycle.


Figure 3 - This photograph was taken by SIU FI and faces east on the grassed island approaching Indian Road South and is a close-up of Figure 2. The gouge marks and broken tree saplings are apparent and these indicate the path taken by the motorcycle. The red circle indicates the resting location of a black headband believed to be worn by the Complainant.

Figure 3 - This photograph was taken by SIU FI and faces east on the grassed island approaching Indian Road South and is a close-up of Figure 2. The gouge marks and broken tree saplings are apparent and these indicate the path taken by the motorcycle. The red circle indicates the resting location of a black headband believed to be worn by the Complainant.


2.1 2017 dark blue/white Dodge Charger Pursuit SE

This vehicle was examined at Sarnia Police Service, 555 Christina Street North, in the afternoon of September 11, 2019. There was no fresh damage to the exterior. The civilian, police and MWS radios were not on. The forward and rear mounted Genesis radar was not on. There was no functioning GPS capability to this vehicle. The emergency lighting for red/blue 360 degrees was around the vehicle and the sirens functioned. No airbag deployed and the driver’s seatbelt was loose against the “B” pillar with no load mark evidence on it.

Figure 4 - This photograph was taken by SIU FI and faces north in the rear parking lot of Sarnia Police Service, 555 Christina Street North in Sarnia. There was no evidence of fresh damage to the exterior of this vehicle.

Figure 4 - This photograph was taken by SIU FI and faces north in the rear parking lot of Sarnia Police Service, 555 Christina Street North in Sarnia. There was no evidence of fresh damage to the exterior of this vehicle.


2.2 2017 dark blue/white Dodge Charger Pursuit SE

This vehicle was examined at Sarnia Police Service, 555 Christina Street North, in the afternoon of September 11, 2019. There was no fresh damage to the exterior. The tires were Firestone in make and Firehawk in model. They were the manufacturer’s recommended size of 235/60R18. Collectively the inflation ranged from 39 to 40 psi. Collectively their tread depth ranged from 5 to 8 mm. The odometer indicated 84,048 kilometres. The gear shift was in park, the wiper switch was off and the headlights were on the “auto” position. The civilian, police and MWS radios were not on. There was nothing remarkable regarding the interior. There was no functioning GPS capability to this vehicle. The emergency lighting for red/blue was 360 degrees around the vehicle and the sirens functioned. No airbag deployed and the driver’s seatbelt was loose against the “B” pillar with no load mark evidence on it.


Figure 5 - This photograph was taken by SIU FI and faces north in the rear parking lot of Sarnia Police Service, 555 Christina Street North in Sarnia. There was no evidence of fresh damage to the exterior of this vehicle.

Figure 5 - This photograph was taken by SIU FI and faces north in the rear parking lot of Sarnia Police Service, 555 Christina Street North in Sarnia. There was no evidence of fresh damage to the exterior of this vehicle.


2.3 2006 black coloured Kawasaki ZX6R

This vehicle was examined at the scene. The left side of the vehicle was damaged. The rear faring was cracked and the tail light was detached. The left motor housing and shroud were scraped. Dirt was embedded in the kickstand and the left handlebar. Grass was embedded on the left side of both rims and left sidewalls of both tires. There was a contact patch on the rear tire. The keys were in the ignition but there was no battery power to read the speedometer, tachometer, or odometer. The headlights were on high beam. The transmission was in the highest gear. The kill switch was not activated. The front and rear brake cylinders were full. The front and rear brake pads were low but usable.

3.1 Airbag Control Module (ACM)

The ACM of neither SPS vehicle was downloaded as there was no evidence that they were involved in a collision. There is no ACM in a motorcycle.

3.2 General Analysis

The tire and rim scuff along the top of the curb on the grass island is consistent with originating from the rear tire just before the motorcycle fell to its left side. The tire and rim scuff on the approaching ramp and on the side of the grass island curb is consistent with originating from the front tire also just before the motorcycle fell to its left side.

The commencement of the 5.4 metre long scuff mark leading east towards the curb (contact patch on rear tire of motorcycle), the carbon black transfer on the curb where the tire mark ended (sidewall and rim scrapes on left side of motorcycle tires), gouge marks in the grass further to the east (embedded dirt/grass on motorcycle), the two broken saplings further to the east and the resting location of the Kawasaki with damage on its left side are consistent with the Kawasaki being driven eastbound out of control from eastbound Campbell Street to the southbound ramp then falling to its left side as it impacted the curb, grass and saplings. The resting location of the head band south of the Kawasaki is an indication of the resting location of the Complainant and suggests that the Complainant was airborne during the Kawasaki’s impacts.

3.3 Speed Determination

According to the videos, the SO slowed to a speed in the mid 20 km/h range while westbound, made a three-point turn to travel eastbound and accelerated to speeds ranging from 58 km/h to 87 km/h on Campbell Street before slowing at Indian Road South. WO #1 was traveling 55 km/h to 73 km/h along the same eastbound Campbell Street path as the SO. The Complainant was traveling between 87 km/h and 125 km/h throughout his eastbound movement on Campbell Street. Of interest, the SO did not swerve his cruiser but maintained a straight slow westbound path on Campbell Street just before and during the time that the Complainant was eastbound and passed him at high speed.

Assuming an all wheel lock up co-efficient of friction of 0.7 to 0.9, it would take a calculated speed range of 31 km/h to 35 km/h to create the 5.4 metre long Kawasaki tire mark.

Assuming a coefficient of friction of 0.7 to 1.0 for a motorcycle sliding on its side on grass for 26.4 metres it would take a calculated speed of 68 km/h to 82 km/h to come to rest where it did after the initial curb strike.

The calculated combined speed of the motorcycle where the tire mark started is 75 km/h to 89 km/h. The speed of the motorcycle prior to that is not calculable from roadway evidence.

The calculated speed range when the motorcycle tire mark began just before impact is consistent with the slightly faster speeds indicated in the videos. This assumes that raking occurred prior to a tire mark being made.

The ACM was of no assistance in speed determination.

There was no GPS data provided to assist with speed calculations of the cruisers.


4.0 CONCLUSIONS

The Reconstructionist’s assessment of the collision yielded the following conclusions:

  • At about 3:20 a.m. on Wednesday, September 11, 2019, WO #1 drove eastbound on Campbell Street following a 2006 Kawasaki operated by the Complainant which was operated at a high rate of speed;
  • The speed limit on Campbell Street was 50 km/h;
  • The weather was clear and the roads were dry;
  • At the same time the SO, as he drove westbound on Campbell Street, slowed to the mid 20-km/h range while approaching the Complainant;
  • The SO did not swerve but remained straight in his westbound path as the Complainant passed him at high speed;
  • According to video, the Complainant passed the SO without incident traveling between 87 km/h and 125 km/h throughout his eastbound movement on Campbell Street;
  • The emergency lighting was activated on both cruisers;
  • At a speed between 75 km/h and 89 km/h, the Complainant attempted to negotiate a ramp to the right to travel southbound on Indian Road South but lost control so that the wheels of the motorcycle struck the side of the east curb causing the motorcycle and his body to become airborne;
  • The Kawasaki and the Complainant continued eastbound across the grassed island which separates Indian Road South from the eastbound Campbell Street to southbound Indian Road South ramp and they both came to rest on the grass immediately west of Indian Road South;
  • There was no evidence on the roadway or in the videos indicating that the police cruisers played a part in the motorcycle losing control, the reason for which is unknown;
  • According to the videos, the SO made a three-point turn and followed the Complainant, with roof lights activated for about 800 metres to the collision scene at speeds between 58 km/h to 87 km/h; and
  • According to the videos, WO #1 followed behind the SO with no roof lights activated at speeds between 55 km/h to 73 km/h.

Materials obtained from Police Service

Upon request, the SIU obtained and reviewed the following materials and documents from the SPS:
  • Event Details relating to this incident;
  • Communications recordings;
  • General Occurrence summarizing this incident;
  • Motor Vehicle Collision Report;
  • Notes from both WOs;
  • SPS Involved Persons List; and
  • Witness Statement of a civilian.

Materials obtained from Other Sources

The SIU obtained the following material from other sources:
  • Medical records for the Complainant relating to this incident, obtained with his consent; and
  • CCTV footage from three cameras located at a business adjacent to the scene.

Incident Narrative

In the early morning hours of September 11, 2019, the Complainant lost control of a motorcycle he was operating and crashed it in the intersection of Campbell Street and Indian Road in Sarnia. Moments prior, the Complainant had traveled past the cruiser of the SO on Campbell Street. The SO had arrived in the area following radio communications of a stolen motorcycle being followed by a fellow officer, WO #1. On my assessment of the evidence, there are no reasonable grounds to believe that the SO in the SIU investigation committed a criminal offence in connection with the motorcycle crash and the resulting injury to the Complainant.

The material events in question are clear on the evidence collected by the SIU, which included a written statement provided by the SO and formal interviews with the Complainant and two WOs. The presence of three cameras located at a nearby commercial premises, which caught and recorded the actual incident, was also critical in determining the sequence of events.

At approximately 3:20 a.m. on September 11, 2019, the SPS received a report that a black Kawasaki motorcycle had been stolen from an address on George Street in the City of Sarnia. The caller reported that the driver was heading to Mitton Street; this information was broadcast to all units. Shortly thereafter, the motorcycle was spotted travelling southbound on Mitton Street, approaching Campbell Street, and the SO and WO #1, in separate police cruisers, attempted to stop the vehicle. At 3:22 a.m., the driver of the motorcycle, the Complainant, crashed at Campbell Street at the on ramp to Indian Road, and both the Complainant and the motorcycle came to rest in the centre median of Campbell Street. Emergency Medical Services was contacted and the Complainant was transported to hospital where he was diagnosed with having sustained a fractured right arm.

Allegations were made that the collision was caused as a result of the actions of the SO; specifically, the allegations were that some 100 metres east of the Indian Road intersection, the SO’s cruiser moved into the eastbound lane of traffic on Campbell Street, forcing the Complainant to swerve to avoid a head-on collision with the SO’s police cruiser. In so doing, the Complainant was allegedly unable to brake in time to make the right turn onto the Indian Road on ramp and lost control of the Kawasaki motorcycle, following which the Complainant was ejected from the motorcycle and lost consciousness. The allegation is that had the SO not come into the Complainant’s lane of traffic, the Complainant would not have been injured.

At 3:20 a.m. on September 11, 2019, the communications centre issued a broadcast advising that a motorcycle had just been reported stolen from a residence on George Street. WO #1, in his police cruiser, heard the sound of a motorcycle operating at a high rate of speed and drove towards Mitton Street; when he looked southbound, he observed the tail lights of a motorcycle on Mitton Street driving southbound at a high rate of speed. WO #1 then entered onto Mitton Street and also drove southbound. When the motorcycle slowed for a right turn, WO #1 was able to close the gap between his cruiser and the motorcycle. At 3:21 a.m., WO #1 reported that he had located the motorcycle travelling at a high rate of speed and that he was going to attempt a vehicle stop.

The SO, parked in his police cruiser at the foot of Ontario Street, remained at his location until he heard a broadcast from WO #1 indicating that the motorcycle had been spotted travelling southbound on Mitton Street, approaching Campbell Street. The SO drove to the westbound lane of Campbell Street, where he pulled over and stopped, with his right-side tires on the gravel shoulder.

WO #1 observed the Complainant drive through the stop sign at Campbell Street, without stopping, and then pull into a business parking lot. WO #1 drove west on Campbell Street, with his emergency lighting and siren activated, and stopped his cruiser on the south side of the road, ahead of the motorcycle. WO #1’s cruiser was stopped about 15 to 20 metres from the motorcycle, and they were separated by a grassy median. As WO #1 was about to exit his cruiser to approach the Complainant, the Complainant drove north across the boulevard, passing by WO #1’s cruiser. The motorcycle then travelled eastbound on Campbell, and WO #1 made a U-turn and followed.

After WO #1’s emergency lighting system activated, the SO in turn activated his own. Their emergency lighting systems had been activated, however, for no more than a few seconds when they received a broadcast at 3:22 a.m. from the police officer supervising roads, WO #2, that no police officer was to actively pursue the stolen motorcycle. Both officers then extinguished their respective emergency lighting systems and pulled to the side of the road. Evidence suggests that the SO was parked on the westbound side of the road when the Complainant sped past the SO’s police cruiser at a very high rate of speed in the eastbound lane of Campbell Street. Once the motorcycle was completely out of sight, the SO began to follow in the direction in which the Complainant had disappeared in order to alert other officers of the location in which the Complainant was travelling. As the SO approached Indian Road, on Campbell Street, the motorcycle had already been involved in a single vehicle collision and both the motorcycle and its driver were located in the centre median of Campbell Street. At 3:23 a.m., the SO reported that he had come across the Kawasaki crashed at Indian Road and Campbell Street.

The CCTV footage confirms that the Complainant was driving at an excessive rate of speed just prior to the collision. Additionally, it reveals that at the time of the collision, at 3:22:30 a.m., no police vehicles were in camera view, with the SO arriving at the scene at 3:22:52 a.m. and WO #1 at 3:23:01 a.m.

The conclusion of the SIU Collision Reconstructionist was that the cause of the collision was the excessive speed, estimated at between 75 and 89 km/h, at which the Complainant approached the ramp to travel southbound on Indian Road, which caused him to lose control and crash the motorcycle. The reconstructionist was further of the view that the SO was traveling in the mid-20 km/h range when he was passed by the Complainant traveling east on Campbell Street; the SO did not cross into the Complainant’s lane of travel.

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 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 the foregoing record, while both WO #1 and the SO had attempted to perform a vehicle stop and had activated their emergency lighting systems for that purpose, within seconds of their commencing this attempt, WO #2 issued a directive that they were not to engage in a vehicular pursuit with the motorcycle, and both immediately extinguished their emergency lighting systems and pulled to the side of the road, aborting a vehicular pursuit before it had even begun. Additionally, the weight of the evidence indicates that the SO did not cross into the Complainant’s lane of traffic, nor was he responsible for the single vehicle collision in which the Complainant was involved, that being solely due to the actions of the Complainant in attempting to take a turn onto the on ramp to Indian Road at an excessive rate of speed and thereby losing control of the motorcycle. In the result, I have no reasonable grounds to believe that the SO either caused or contributed to the collision in question, or otherwise drove dangerously in violation of the Criminal Code.


Date: May 4, 2020

Electronically approved by

Joseph Martino
Director
Special Investigations Unit

Endnotes

  • 1) However, the SO submitted to the SIU the statement that the SO had submitted to the SPS. [Back to text]