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SIU Director’s Report - Case # 20-PVI-088

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 injury that a 21-year-old woman (the “Complainant”) suffered.

The Investigation

Notification of the SIU

On April 17, 2020 at 4:40 p.m., the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) notified the SIU of an injury. The OPP reported that at 2:05 p.m. on April 17, 2020, a police officer was conducting radar on Highway 401 and Hurontario Street when he “clocked” a vehicle traveling at 146 km/h. The police officer pursued the vehicle and the vehicle stopped just before the Mavis Road exit ramp. As the police officer pulled in behind the vehicle, the vehicle drove away and exited at Mavis Road. The vehicle turned south on Mavis Road and collided with a dump truck.

Four occupants of the car exited the vehicle and began to walk away.

Another police officer arrived and arrested the male driver, identified as Civilian Witness (CW) #1.

Emergency medical services attended and assessed two young children. They were cleared of injuries and turned over to their grandmother, who arrived at the scene.

CW #1 was cleared of injuries and was in police custody.

The female passenger, the Complainant, complained of abdominal soreness and was transported to the Credit Valley Hospital where she was assessed and diagnosed with a broken finger.

At the time of notification, Peel Regional Police (PRP) officers were processing the scene and obtained statements from the driver of the dump truck involved in the collision, CW #2, and a civilian witness.

The Team

Number of SIU Investigators assigned: 3

Complainants

Complainant: 21-year-old female interviewed


Civilian Witnesses

CW #1 Interviewed
CW #2 Interviewed

Evidence

The Scene

This collision occurred in the intersection of Mavis Road at Highway 401 eastbound exit ramp.

SIU scene investigation and collision reconstruction confirmed the Honda Accord was southbound on Mavis Road when it collided into the front left side of the dump truck that was turning left from the exit to travel north on Mavis Road.

The collision occurred in daylight conditions at 1:30 p.m. on April 17, 2020. Traffic was light at the time, the roads were dry, clear, in good condition and good repair. The traffic control signaling system was functioning properly at the time of the collision and investigation.

Forensic Evidence


GPS Data


GPS data from the cruiser involved in this incident were received and analyzed by the SIU.

The GPS data revealed the cruiser was stopped on westbound Highway 401, just west of Hurontario Street, at the Hurontario Street ramp onto the highway when, at 1:28:51 p.m., it accelerated, reaching 135 km/h before starting to slow. At 1:29:44 p.m., the cruiser slowed to 58 km/h as it approached the Mavis Road off ramp. It then accelerated again to 109 km/h about eight seconds later.

About 14 seconds later, at 1:30:06 p.m., the cruiser slowed to 3 km/h before stopping in the area at the end of the ramp. It remained stopped about 26 seconds before turning right and travelling north on Mavis Road; it came to a stop about 90 metres north of the exit, at 1:30:50 p.m. About 37 seconds later, at 1:31:27 p.m., the cruiser was recorded driving north before turning around and driving south to the collision scene, where it arrived at 1:32:19 p.m.

Video/Audio/Photographic Evidence

The SIU canvassed the area for any video or audio recordings, and photographic evidence, but was not able to locate any.

Police Communications Recordings


OPP Communications Recordings:


At 1:30:08 p.m., the officer operating the cruiser involved in this incident initially reported, “I just had a vehicle fail to stop for me. 401 westbound off-ramp to Mavis can I give you a marker? Not in pursuit. Didn’t pursue.” The officer went on to provide the licence plate and said, “[A]nd it was on a silver Honda Accord. It proceeded southbound on Mavis.” He sounded calm at the time of reporting. No engine sound or siren were heard in the background. He then reported a passerby advised him of a motor vehicle collision and it could have involved the Honda Accord. He then reported he had a male party there and needed another police officer as the male was “not being cooperative.” When asked for an update, he reported he had one in custody.

At 1:38 p.m., the officer called the communications centre as directed by a dispatcher. Speaking to the communications sergeant when asked what happened, the officer said: “I was just shooting some [indecipherable] around the 401. Clocked a car at 146. Went after it and then actually pulled over, like before I even lit it up, I saw it pull over on the bullnose to Mavis Road. So I figured – this is making it easy – it’s stopping before I even got close it stopped and then as soon as I start pulling up behind it, it ducks, takes the ramp, so it merges back into the traffic. Takes the ramp to Mavis. I light it up right away and he just floors it on the ramp. I shut down my lights and then he goes through the red, goes south on Mavis. I then stop on Mavis north, and you know call in everything, lights off. And about maybe a minute or so later, a motorist pulls up and says, ‘Hey there’s a crash south of you.’”

Materials obtained from Police Service

Upon request the SIU obtained and reviewed the following materials and documents from the PRP and the OPP:
  • Event Details for this incident;
  • General Report for this incident;
  • Involved Members for this incident;
  • News release from the OPP - SPECIAL INVESTIGATIONS UNIT INVOKES MANDATE;
  • Occurrence Involvements and Associations for this incident;
  • Witness Statement-CW #2; and
  • Witness Statement-another civilian witness.

Incident Narrative

The following scenario, sufficient to dispose of the criminal law issues, emerges from the information collected by the SIU in the investigation, which included interviews with the driver of the truck that collided with the Honda (CW #2) and a civilian eyewitness to the collision. Though neither the Complainant nor the driver of the Honda, CW #1, agreed to engage in a formal interview with the SIU, they provided important information about what transpired in brief conversations when they were contact by SIU investigators. An interview with the involved officer was deemed unnecessary as his role in the events in question was sufficiently captured by GPS data associated with his cruiser and his radio transmissions at the time. About 1:30 p.m. on April 17, 2020, the officer was stationary in his cruiser in the area of the westbound on-ramp to Highway 401 from Hurontario Street conducting speed enforcement. The officer clocked a westbound Honda Accord operated by a male – CW #1 – speeding at 146 km/h and decided to pull him over.

Before the officer could catch up with the Honda, CW #1 pulled over onto the shoulder of the roadway. Upon the officer’s arrival shortly thereafter, however, CW #1 accelerated away from the cruiser at high speed and exited the highway on the Mavis Road off-ramp. The officer pursued the Honda for a brief period, but soon discontinued his engagement after seeing the vehicle make a left turn through a red light from the off-ramp onto southbound Mavis Road.

Following the left turn on Mavis Road, the Honda collided with a dump truck that was turning left to travel north on the roadway from the highway. In and around the same time, the officer was travelling north on Mavis Road from the highway when a motorist pulled up beside his cruiser and alerted him to the collision. The officer turned around and made his way to the scene of the collision, whereupon he placed CW #1 under arrest. The Complainant was taken to hospital and diagnosed with a fractured finger.

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

In the afternoon of April 17, 2020, the Complainant was a passenger in a Honda Accord when the vehicle was involved in an accident with a dump truck at the intersection of Mavis Road and the eastbound exit ramp of Highway 401. The Complainant broke a finger in the collision. Fortunately, none of the other persons in the two vehicles were seriously hurt. Moments before the collision, an OPP officer had attempted to pull over the Honda for a speeding infraction and then briefly pursued the vehicle. On my assessment of the evidence, there are no reasonable grounds to believe that the officer committed a criminal offence in connection with the collision.

The offence that arises for consideration is dangerous driving contrary to section 320.13(1) of the Criminal Code. As an offence of penal negligence, liability 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. The evidence, in my view, falls well short of any reasonable conclusion that the officer transgressed the limits of care prescribed by the criminal law. While the officer initially reached 135 km/h as he pursued the Honda to stop it for speeding, the speed occurred over a matter of seconds as the officer was attempting to close the distance to the Honda and does not appear to have directly imperiled traffic around the cruiser. There was a second burst of speed by the officer – topping out at 109 km/h – as the officer accelerated after the Honda after it had come to a stop on the shoulder of the highway. This episode of high speed was even more truncated than the first and occurred with the officer’s emergency lights on. Again, there is no suggestion that anyone on the roadway was endangered by the officer’s cruiser. This would include CW #1 and the Complainant.

In the result, while I strongly suspect that CW #1’s reckless driving behaviour – speeding and disregarding traffic control signals – was motivated by a desire to escape police apprehension at the hands of the officer, I am satisfied that the officer did little if anything wrong in the few seconds he pursued the Honda. Accordingly, there is no basis for proceeding with charges in this case and the file is closed.


Date: June 8, 2020


Electronically approved by

Joseph Martino
Director
Special Investigations Unit