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News Release

SIU Concludes Toronto Vehicle Injuries Investigation

Case Number: 13-TVI-042

Mississauga (23 April, 2013) --- The Director of the Special Investigations Unit (SIU), Ian Scott, has concluded that there are no reasonable grounds to charge a Toronto Police Service officer with any criminal offence in relation to the injuries sustained by a 23-year-old female and 49-year-old male in February of 2013.

The SIU assigned three investigators, two forensic investigators and a collision reconstructionist to probe the circumstances of this incident. As part of the investigation, one witness officer and 10 civilian witnesses were interviewed. The subject officer consented to an interview with the SIU and provided a copy of his duty notes. 

The SIU investigation found that the following events took place on Wednesday, February 13:
• In the afternoon hours, the subject officer and witness officer were parked in a marked police cruiser, in a lot on Bathurst Street near Front Street. They were monitoring motorists as part of a distracted driving enforcement effort. 
• The officers observed the driver of a silver Infiniti G35 talking on a cell phone. The subject officer pulled out of the parking lot for the purpose of initiating a vehicle stop and began following the Infiniti northbound on Bathurst Street.
• The cruiser was equipped with an in-car camera which captured the ensuing events: 
o As the police vehicle passed through the intersection of King and Bathurst Streets, its emergency lights were activated and the siren was sounded for a very brief period. The siren was sounded again briefly. As the subject officer drove through the green lights at Adelaide Street, he activated the siren once again and left it on. The Infiniti pulled into the curb lane and came to a stop. The subject officer pulled in behind.
o Seconds later, the Infiniti drove away and shortly after was nearly involved in a collision with an SUV also traveling northbound. The subject officer, with cruiser lights and siren activated, drove around the driver’s side of the SUV, travelling in the southbound lane.
o The Infiniti proceeded to speed through the intersection with Richmond Street against a red light. The cruiser also passed through the intersection against the red light with no perceptible effort to come to a stop. The Infiniti again drove into the oncoming traffic lanes to get around northbound traffic, as did the cruiser. At the corner of Bathurst and Queen Streets, both the Infiniti and cruiser made a right hand turn from the west side of a streetcar stopped at a red light, to turn east onto Queen Street.
o In an effort to move around stopped eastbound traffic at Portland Street, the Infiniti began driving into oncoming westbound traffic. The cruiser followed at a distance of approximately three car lengths. Westbound vehicles had to pull over to avoid colliding with the Infiniti.
o The Infiniti entered the intersection at Augusta Avenue against a red traffic signal and collided with a northbound Honda Civic. The Infiniti then struck a street lamp on the northeast corner of the intersection. The cruiser stopped on the west side of the intersection. At that exact time, the Infiniti driver exited the vehicle and started to run northbound on Augusta Avenue. The subject officer and his partner ran after the man.
• While not visible from the in-car camera imagery, the Infiniti struck a female cyclist who was stationary and facing westbound at the north-east corner of Queen Street and Augusta Avenue, waiting for the traffic lights to change.
• The cyclist sustained a fractured right tibia. The Honda driver sustained a fractured left clavicle as a result of the collision.

The pursuit lasted 41 seconds and covered a distance less than one kilometer. The maximum speed the cruiser attained was 64 km/h on Bathurst Street and 69 km/h on Queen Street. The speed limit on these streets is 50 km/h.

Director Scott said, “In my view, the subject officer had the lawful authority to initiate a suspect apprehension pursuit of the Infiniti; the officer had attempted to direct the driver to stop for an apparent Highway Traffic Act infraction, the driver chose to flee, and neither officer was successful in identifying either the licence plate number of the Infiniti or its driver. The in-car camera video imagery makes it clear that the Infiniti driver drove in a very dangerous manner, speeding, running red lights in a busy downtown area of Toronto, and ultimately causing serious injuries to a cyclist and a motorist.

“While the subject officer did not know that the pursuit would be so dangerous at the moment of initiation, he should have quickly ascertained that the risk to public safety was rapidly escalating as he pursued the vehicle through a red light at the intersection of Bathurst and Richmond Streets, and again as both the pursued and pursuing vehicle made a right hand turn on the wrong side of a streetcar stopped at a red light at the corner of Bathurst and Queen Streets. Further, both vehicles were intermittently travelling in the wrong lanes of both Queen and Bathurst Streets.”  

Director Scott continued, “Pursuant to the Suspect Apprehension Pursuit regulation of the Police Services Act, the subject officer ‘shall discontinue the pursuit when the risk to public safety that may result from the pursuit outweighs the risk to public safety that may result if an individual in the fleeing motor vehicle is not immediately apprehended or if the fleeing motor vehicle is not identified.’ Here, the subject officer initiated the traffic stop due to an apparent improper cell phone use, an offence that could not be considered as dangerous to the public as the driving of the two vehicles that occurred during the pursuit. In my view, this pursuit should have been discontinued before the collision at the corner of Queen Street and Augusta Avenue. However, the pursuit was of a short duration both in terms of time and distance. Accordingly, I cannot conclude the subject officer’s driving was a marked departure from that of a similarly situated police officer such that it amounted to dangerous driving in light of his lawful authority to initiate the pursuit.” 

Director Scott added, “While I am of the view that the subject officer’s driving does not amount to dangerous driving under the Criminal Code in these circumstances, the Toronto Police Service should consider the following matters in its internal investigation. First, the video imagery from the in-car camera makes it clear that the subject officer ran a red light without stopping at Bathurst and Richmond Streets. While drivers of emergency vehicles may proceed through a red light, they must come to a full stop before proceeding pursuant to the Highway Traffic Act. Further, the subject officer’s right hand turn at Bathurst and Queen Streets from the wrong side of the stationary streetcar was arguably careless. Finally, the subject officer may have breached the Suspect Apprehension Pursuit regulation when he did not discontinue this pursuit in a more timely manner, a code of conduct offence in the Police Services Act.”   

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. 

Monica Hudon, monica.hudon@ontario.ca
SIU Communications/Service des communications, UES
Telephone/No de téléphone: 416-622-2342 or/ou 1-800-787-8529 extension 2342