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News Release

SIU Concludes Investigation of Huron County Vehicle Injuries

Case Number: 14-PVI-075

Mississauga (21 August, 2014) ---
The Director of the Special Investigations Unit (SIU), Tony Loparco, has concluded that there are no reasonable grounds to charge an officer with the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP), Huron Detachment, with any criminal offence in relation to the injuries sustained by an 18-year-old woman and a 17-year-old male in March of this year. 

The SIU assigned three investigators and one forensic investigator to probe the circumstances of this incident. As part of the investigation, seven witness officers were interviewed. The subject officer provided a copy of his duty notes but did not interview with the SIU, as is his legal right. 

The SIU investigation found that the following events took place on Wednesday, March 26, 2014:
  • Following reports of a stolen Pontiac, the subject officer and his partner had set-up surveillance in a marked OPP cruiser on Main Street in the Town of Seaforth. 
  • At approximately 2:15 a.m., the vehicle in question drove north past the officers’ location and proceeded to make a left turn onto Goderich Street. 
  • The subject officer began to follow the Pontiac. 
  • The woman, who was the driver of the Pontiac, noticed the cruiser behind her and accelerated westbound on Goderich Street. 
  • The subject officer turned on his emergency lights and siren to signal the Pontiac to stop, but the woman was undeterred.    
  • The pursuit continued westbound onto Huron Road. At Division Line, the woman turned left and proceeded at speed southbound along the gravel road. 
  • The woman lost control of the vehicle and hit a snowbank along the east shoulder of the roadway. The Pontiac rolled over several times before finally coming to rest upright in a field.  
  • Shortly thereafter, the subject officer and his partner arrived at the scene of the collision. The woman was ejected from the vehicle and was badly bruised. The youth, who was a passenger in the vehicle, suffered a severed tendon and nerve in his right hand. 
  • Both complainants were taken to hospital by ambulance for treatment of their injuries. 

Director Loparco concluded, “It is apparent that the subject officer conducted himself well within the limits prescribed by the criminal law.  He had clear and reasonable grounds to initiate the pursuit in light of the information he had that the Pontiac vehicle was stolen.  The evidence suggests the cruiser reached speeds – in and about 100 - 130 km/h – that were not grossly disproportionate to the 80 km/h speed limit in effect on Huron Road and Division Line.   Moreover, there was very little if any traffic on the roadway and the weather was fairly clear.  The roadways appear to have been in good condition.  While there is evidence that the roads were lightly snow covered with snow patches in areas, there is no evidence that this caused or contributed to any loss of control by the officer of his cruiser.  He had his emergency lights and siren on throughout the pursuit, and his partner communicated relevant information to the police communications centre.  Lastly, the subject officer appears to have maintained a safe distance from the Pontiac at all times, neither pushing the woman to lose control of her vehicle, nor depriving her of choosing to come to a safe stop had she been so inclined.  The weight of the evidence indicates the cruiser was never closer than about 20 to 40 metres for a brief period and was mostly several hundred metres away from the Pontiac for the duration of the pursuit, including at its tail end as the vehicles made their way south on Division Line.    

I am satisfied on this evidence that the subject officer exercised a reasonable level of care throughout his engagement with the Pontiac and that there are therefore no grounds to proceed with charges in this case.”

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. 

Jasbir Dhillon, jasbir.dhillon@ontario.ca
SIU Communications/Service des communications, UES
Telephone/No de téléphone: 416-622-2342 or/ou 1-800-787-8529 extension 2342