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News Release

SIU Concludes Death Investigation in Port Hope

Case Number: 13-OOD-148

Mississauga (22 November, 2013) --- The Acting Director of the Special Investigations Unit (SIU), Joseph Martino, has concluded that there are no reasonable grounds to charge a Port Hope Police Service officer with any criminal offence in relation to the death of 30-year-old Christopher Thomson in June of 2013.

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

The SIU investigation found that the following events took place on Friday, June 28, 2013 and Saturday, June 29, 2013:
• At approximately 11:30 p.m., Mr. Thomson was driving his pickup truck westbound on Walton Street when he caught the attention of two officers in a marked cruiser. Mr. Thomson’s vehicle had swerved one or more times into the eastbound lane, prompting the driving officer to activate his emergency equipment in an effort to stop the vehicle.
• As the vehicles approached Toronto Road, Mr. Thomson decelerated and pulled into the right turn lane, as if to turn right onto Toronto Road. However, when the light for westbound traffic turned green on what was now Ridout Street, Mr. Thomson instead continued to drive straight through the intersection. The officers continued to follow.
• Just after passing Toronto Road, the pickup truck veered onto the grassy westbound shoulder. It continued westbound along the shoulder and past the Shortt Street intersection, whereupon it collided with a tree, spun and flipped upside down.
• The officers rushed to Mr. Thomson’s aid and discovered a significant head wound.  Together with a nurse who offered her assistance, they attempted to stem the flow of blood from the head and administered CPR.
• Mr. Thomson succumbed to his injuries the following day in hospital. 

The post-mortem examination discovered that Mr. Thomson’s head wound, the cause of his death, had nothing to do with the collision. It was caused by a gunshot.   

Acting Director Martino said, “The evidence indicates that Mr. Thomson shot himself in the head, more than likely just as he passed through the intersection of Toronto Road. The operation of the pickup truck appears to have been purposeful, if impaired to a degree, prior to that point. A firearm was discovered in the truck and an empty .45 calibre cartridge case was retrieved near the driveway of a home on Ridout Street. Forensic testing established that the case was discharged from the gun. DNA testing established that the firearm had been in Mr. Thomson’s possession. Witnesses recalled hearing a gunshot at about the time of the events in question. There is no evidence that the officers discharged their weapons.

“The officers had no reason to suspect that Mr. Thomson was suicidal or that their limited attempt to pull him over for erratic driving might provoke him into shooting himself. They were entitled to attempt to pull Mr. Thomson’s vehicle over having witnessed its erratic operation on the roadway under the Highway Traffic Act. In the end, aside from perhaps prompting Mr. Thomson’s last, fateful decision – Mr. Thomson appearing to have shot himself shortly after the officers activated their emergency equipment and began to follow him – there is no suggestion that the officers had anything to do with Mr. Thomson’s death, much less that there is any basis for believing they committed a criminal offence in the circumstances.”  

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