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SIU Director’s Report - Case # 19-OVI-250

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 13-year-old boy (“Complainant #1”) and a 14-year-old boy (“Complainant #2”) suffered.

The Investigation

Notification of the SIU

On October 15, 2019 at 1:00 p.m., the York Regional Police (YRP) contacted the SIU and reported the following:

On October 15, 2019, at approximately 4:41 a.m., a police officer saw an SUV at Dufferin Street and Centre Street with two young people inside. The police officer activated his emergency equipment, but the vehicle failed to stop. The police officer terminated the pursuit but did not call it in to his communications branch. A short time later, the vehicle left the York Region area and was involved in a collision in the Toronto area at Finch Avenue and Dufferin Street. One of the young people in the vehicle was injured and transported to hospital, while the other young person was apprehended. 

The Team

Number of SIU Investigators assigned: 3
Number of SIU Forensic Investigators assigned: 2

Complainants

Complainant #1: 13-year-old male interviewed, medical records obtained and reviewed
Complainant #2: 14-year-old male interviewed, medical records obtained and reviewed


Civilian Witnesses

CW #1 Interviewed
CW #2 Interviewed

Subject Officers

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


Evidence

The Scene

The area in which the SO attempted to stop the SUV was Dufferin Street and Centre Street. Centre Street was a four-lane roadway with two lanes travelling east and two lanes travelling west. Dufferin Street was a six-lane marked roadway with three lanes travelling north and three lanes travelling south. The lanes were partitioned by a centre lane. The posted speed limit was 60 km/h. While travelling south on Dufferin Street, approaching Finch Avenue, there was a marked left turn lane to proceed east onto Finch Avenue and a marked right turn lane to proceed west onto Finch Avenue. There was a raised concrete median separating the northbound and southbound lanes.

Finch Avenue travelled in an east/west direction, with two marked lanes travelling west and two marked lanes travelling east. There was a raised concrete island separating the opposing lanes. The intersection of Dufferin Street and Finch Avenue was surrounded by commercial businesses, a gas station, and restaurants. The intersection was controlled by overhead traffic lights.

Upon arrival at the intersection of Finch Avenue and Dufferin Street, there was a large tractor positioned in a westerly direction on the curb of the westbound lane of Finch Avenue, west of the intersection. Two tanker trailers were being towed behind the tractor. There was heavy collision damage to the right rear wheels of the last tanker trailer, which had been removed from the tractor and attached to a tow truck.

The SUV was a grey-coloured Mitsubishi Outlander. There was extensive damage to the front right corner and both the front and side curtain airbags had been deployed.

There were tire marks, scrapes, and gouges on the left southbound lane, near the middle of the intersection.

A marked YRP cruiser (the SO’s) was located at YRP 4 District. Upon examination of the vehicle, no fresh collision damage was found. The emergency equipment was functioning.

The distance from the intersection of Dufferin and Centre Streets to Dufferin Street and Finch Avenue was about four kilometres.

Video/Audio/Photographic Evidence


In-Cruiser Camera (ICC) Video Footage Summary:


The following is a summary of the video footage that was captured from the cruiser being operated by the SO on October 15, 2019:

The video footage commenced at 4:41 a.m. A dark grey SUV could be seen driving in the curb lane of Centre Street. The SO was driving directly behind at speeds between 57 and 63 km/h.

At 4:41:20 a.m., the SUV turned right, or south, on Dufferin Street and continued driving in the left lane. The SO continued to follow the SUV at 30 km/h.

At 4:41:37 a.m., the SO activated his lights and sirens. He was travelling at a speed of 51 km/h. The SUV was seen pulling ahead slightly to the right curb lane before it stopped at 4:41:46 a.m. The SO stopped directly behind the SUV.

At 4:41:57 a.m., the sound of the cruiser’s door could be heard; at 4:41:59 a.m., however, the SUV sped off. The SO started to drive reaching a speed of 110 km/h for a brief time. At 4:42:45 a.m., the SO slowed down to a speed of around 70 km/h and the video footage stopped. Prior to the video footage ending, the SUV was not in sight.

It was also noted that the SO drove through approximately three intersections, all of which were on green traffic lights for his vehicle at the time.

Automatic Vehicle Locator (AVL) / Global Positioning Satellite (GPS)

The following is a summary of AVL/GPS coordinates from the cruiser that the SO was operating on October 15, 2019:

The SO’s cruiser was moving on Highway 7 and then west on Centre Street before turning south on Dufferin Street. The cruiser turned into a parking lot located on the northeast corner of Dufferin Street and Viceroy Road. The cruiser was stopped for just over two minutes.

At 4:46:15 a.m., the cruiser travelled onto Viceroy Road and turned north on Dufferin Street. The cruiser continued north to Clarke Avenue West and turned into a parking lot before it stopped moving. At 4:49:50 a.m., the cruiser was still stopped in the parking lot.

Police Communications Recordings


TPS 911 / Communications Summary


The following is a summary of the TPS communications recordings for the morning of October 15, 2019:

At 4:44:14 a.m., a man called 911 and reported a collision at the intersection of Dufferin Street and Finch Avenue. The man advised that a vehicle [now known to be the SUV] had collided into a fuel tanker [now known to have been driven by CW #2] and that both passengers from the SUV had gotten out of the vehicle and one of them [now known to be Complainant #1] appeared to have a broken ankle.

At 4:44:18 a.m., CW #2 called 911 and reported consistent information to that of the man. Other 911 callers reported similar information.

At 4:46:29 a.m., the dispatcher assigned TPS police officers to attend the scene. According to the Intergraph Computer-Assisted Dispatch (ICAD) Report, at 4:52:38 a.m., a police officer was reported to be at the scene followed by other TPS police officers.

Materials obtained from Police Service

Upon request, the SIU obtained and reviewed the following materials and documents from the YRP and the Toronto Police Service (TPS):
  • Email from YRP regarding the SO’s declining an interview;
  • Email from YRP regarding Follow Up on the Criminal Investigation into this incident;
  • Procedure-Suspect Apprehension Pursuit-YRP (effective date 2018 Aug 8);
  • TPS General Occurrence report for this incident;
  • TPS ICAD Event Details Report;
  • TPS Motor Vehicle Accident Report for this incident;
  • TPS Reconstruction Data;
  • YRP Detailed Call Summary;
  • YRP General Occurrence records for this incident;
  • GPS / AVL data for this incident;
  • ICC video recording; and
  • YRP officer activity synopses.

Materials obtained from Other Sources

In addition to the materials received from the police, SIU obtained and reviewed the following materials from other sources:
  • Complainant #2’s medical records.

Incident Narrative

The material events in question are apparent on the evidence collected by the SIU, which included statements from the Complainants and two independent civilian eyewitnesses. As was his right, the SO, as the subject of the investigation, declined to be interviewed or authorize the release of his notes. The investigation also benefitted from a review of a video recording of the pursuit captured by the SO’s ICC and GPS/AVL data associated with his cruiser.

At about 4:40 a.m. on October 15, 2019, the SO, while on patrol in his cruiser, observed an SUV traveling through an amber light at the intersection of Highway 7 and Rivermede Road. He followed the SUV as it turned right onto southbound Dufferin Street from Centre Street and activated his emergency lights and siren intending to stop it. The SUV briefly pulled over to the curb lane and stopped, but then accelerated away south on Dufferin Street. The SO accelerated as well after the SUV. He hit a top speed of about 110 km/h briefly before slowing his cruiser down, deactivating his lights and siren, and terminating the pursuit. In total, the officer had pursued the SUV for no more than 45 seconds and 500 metres.

The SUV continued at high speed south on Dufferin Street, entered the Finch Avenue intersection and struck a gas tanker turning left in front of it to proceed west on Finch Avenue. Following the initial collision, the SUV careened into the front of a GO bus that was waiting to turn right onto eastbound Finch Avenue from Dufferin Street.

Paramedics and firefighters attended at the scene and provided care to the injured parties.

The first police officer arrived on scene at about 4:52 a.m.

Relevant Legislation

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

In the early morning hours of October 15, 2019, Complainant #1 and Complainant #2 were seriously injured when the vehicle in which they were occupants - a grey-coloured SUV – was involved in a motor vehicle collision at the intersection of Dufferin Street and Finch Avenue in Toronto. Moments prior to the collision, the SO of the YRP had briefly pursued the SUV south on Dufferin Street. On my assessment of the evidence, there are no reasonable grounds to believe that the SO committed a criminal offence in connection with the collision.

The offence that arises for consideration in this case is that of dangerous driving contrary to section 320.13(1) of the Criminal Code. This 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 SO operated his police vehicle throughout his brief engagement with the SUV fell within the limits of care prescribed by the criminal law.

The SO was within his rights in attempting to stop the SUV to investigate its driver for a possible Highway Traffic Act infraction when he observed it fail to stop at an amber light. Thereafter, when the SUV failed to stop, the officer was entitled to initiate a pursuit of the vehicle. While O. Reg. 266/10, the regulation governing police pursuits in the province, forbids pursuits for non-criminal offences where the vehicle or an occupant in it is identified, there is no indication that the SO was in possession of this information at the time.

Thereafter, while the SO ought to have immediately notified the police dispatcher that he had started a pursuit, I am satisfied that the SO conducted himself reasonably and with due regard for the safety of other traffic in the vicinity. He quickly appreciated the speed with which the SUV was accelerating away from his cruiser and decided, wisely in my view, that his further involvement would needlessly add to the danger on the road. The SO had been in hot pursuit for no more than half a kilometre over less than a minute when he decelerated and turned off his emergency equipment. In that brief period of time, the SO’s speed topped out at about 110 km/h, well over the speed limit. That said, given the minimal vehicular and little to no pedestrian traffic in the area, there is no indication of the officer having ever endangered any third-party by the manner of his driving. Nor can it be said that the SO unduly pressured the SUV driver; the officer had called off the pursuit well in advance of the collision, giving the driver of the SUV every opportunity to adopt a safer course.
In the result, though it is likely that a desire to escape police apprehension was at the root of a young driver’s reckless dash to get away, even after the pursuit had been terminated, I am satisfied that the SO at no point in his brief involvement in the events culminating in the collision transgressed the limits of care prescribed by the criminal law. Accordingly, there is no basis for proceeding with criminal charges against the subject officer and the file is closed.


Date: May 11, 2020

Electronically approved by

Joseph Martino
Director
Special Investigations Unit