SIU Concludes Investigation into Fatal Collision in Kingston
Case Number: 05-OVD-030
Other News Releases Related to Case 05-OVD-030
James L. Cornish, the Director of the Special Investigations Unit (SIU), has concluded that a Kingston Police Service (KPS) officer is not criminally liable in relation to the death of Susan Hart.
On March 12, 2005, KPS officers were involved in a pursuit of a stolen Cavalier car. The Cavalier struck a Neon car head on, killing Ms. Hart who was a passenger. The driver of the Neon was also seriously injured as a result of the collision.
SIU investigators were deployed to investigate the circumstances of the police pursuit. As part of the investigation, investigators interviewed over 20 police and civilian witnesses. In addition, police communications tapes, notes and the KPS policy on police pursuits was obtained and reviewed. The collision scene was photographed, videotaped and measured.
The SIU investigation revealed that at approximately 7:00 p.m., a citizen called 9-1-1 to report a possible impaired driver on Wilson Street in the north end of Kingston. A KPS officer in a fully marked cruiser responded and drove northbound on Wilson Street from Weller Avenue searching for the car. The officer saw the driver of a Cavalier pull out from a parking lot and drive southbound on Wilson Street. After confirming from the plate number that it was the suspect vehicle, the officer made a U-turn and followed the Cavalier. The car sped away. The officer activated the cruiser's emergency lighting and notified the police dispatcher that he was in pursuit of the Cavalier.
The Cavalier passed another KPS officer who was driving eastbound on Weller Avenue. The officer made a U-turn and took up the pursuit directly behind the first pursuing officer.
The first police car was approximately 400-500 metres behind when the Cavalier rounded a sharp curve on Weller Avenue. The subject officer continued to pursue the car as it turned into First Canada Court and through the rear parking lot of the A & W restaurant. The officer notified the dispatcher that the Cavalier was nearing Division Street and was instructed to terminate the pursuit. At that very moment, the officer transmitted that he had come upon a collision. The Cavalier had continued northbound on Division Street and struck a Neon car head on.
The investigation determined the pursuit lasted approximately 40 seconds.
Based upon the totality of the evidence gathered in this case, Director Cornish determined that throughout the chase, both the subject officer and the supervisor monitoring the pursuit on the dispatch system were mindful of traffic conditions and the speed involved. The Director stated, "The evidence discloses the officer followed what are commonly established procedures for police pursuit and that unfortunately, those procedures did not prevent this fatal accident. In the result, I do not believe that the officers did anything that caused or contributed to this tragic collision other than attempting to fulfill their duty."
The SIU is an arm’s length agency that investigates reports involving police where there has been death, serious injury or allegations of sexual assault. Under the Police Services Act, the Director of the SIU must
- consider whether an officer has committed a criminal offence in connection with the incident under investigation
- depending on the evidence, lay a criminal charge against the officer if appropriate or close the file without any charges being laid
- report the results of any investigations to the Attorney General.