SIU Concludes Vehicle Death Investigation in Kingston
Case Number: 14-OVD-150
Other News Releases Related to Case 14-OVD-150
Mississauga (8 May, 2015) --- The Director of the Special Investigations Unit (SIU), Tony Loparco, has concluded that there are no reasonable grounds to charge a Kingston Police Force officer with any criminal offence in relation to the death of a 37-year-old man in July of 2014.
The SIU assigned five investigators, two forensic investigators and one collision reconstructionist to probe the circumstances of this incident. As part of the investigation, one witness officer and 12 civilian witnesses were interviewed. The subject officer did not participate in an SIU interview and did not provide a copy of his duty notes, as is his legal right.
The SIU investigation found that the following events took place on Tuesday, July 8, 2014:
- In the mid-afternoon hours, the complainant was operating a motorcycle with a passenger on the back. The man offered his helmet to his passenger, leaving him without one.
- Meanwhile, the subject officer was driving a marked police cruiser east on James Street. He, along with another officer who was a passenger in the cruiser, were stopped on James Street at the Bagot Street intersection when they observed the man’s motorcycle cross their path travelling south on Bagot Street. It appeared to be speeding, was missing its rear licence plate and had two people on it, one of whom was not wearing a helmet. The subject officer turned south onto Bagot Street intending to stop the motorcycle for Highway Traffic Act infractions. He activated the cruiser’s emergency lights and began to pursue the motorcycle.
- The man continued south on Bagot Street, disregarding the stop sign at the intersection with Charles Street before turning right onto John Street. On John Street, the man continued west through the stop sign at Montreal Street without stopping. He did the same at the intersection of John Street and Patrick Street, this time striking the passenger side of a Toyota Rav 4 travelling north through the intersection on Patrick Street with the right-of-way.
- The subject officer followed the same route in his pursuit of the motorcycle. It appears the officer activated his siren and sounded his air horn at some point prior to the collision as he travelled west along John Street. Witnesses in the area suggest the officer’s cruiser was just clearing the John Street and Montreal Street intersection when the collision occurred. Though the officer appears to have slowed for the stop sign at Montreal Street, the evidence suggests he did not bring his cruiser to a complete stop.
- The man was taken to hospital, placed on life support and eventually succumbed to his injuries on August 6, 2014. His passenger also suffered serious, but non-life threatening injuries in the crash.
Director Loparco said, “The offence that arises for consideration is that of dangerous driving. As previous cases have made clear, the liability standard is a high one and will not be made out unless the impugned driving amounts to a marked departure from the standard of care that a reasonable person would have exercised in the circumstances. Arguably, this pursuit ought to have been called off before the collision occurred. Pursuing a motorcycle is a risky business in the best of circumstances. That risk was aggravated in this case by the presence of the passenger and the fact that one of the two occupants was not wearing a helmet. Nor would it appear that the reasons prompting the pursuit were so pressing as to justify the risk. It may be true that the man was exceeding the speed limit, but if he was speeding, he was not travelling like gangbusters. Indeed, at the tail end of the pursuit, the evidence indicates the motorcycle was travelling about 57-60 km/h at about the time of the collision. It should also be noted that the subject officer failed in his duties to stop his cruiser at the John/Montreal Street stop sign and to notify the communications centre that he had started a pursuit.
“On the other side of the ledger, this was a very short-lived pursuit in distance and duration, travelling no more than half a kilometre and lasting about one minute. The weather was clear and the roads were in good condition. Traffic, both pedestrian and vehicular, appears to have been light to moderate at the time. And there is no indication, aside from disregarding the stop sign at the intersection of Montreal and John Streets, that the officer travelled at excessive speeds or otherwise drove in a reckless fashion. The officer also had his emergency lights on and was a fair distance behind the motorcycle for much of the pursuit.”
Director Loparco concluded, “In the final analysis, while the subject officer might have been better served to terminate the pursuit shortly after commencing it, the evidence on balance does not reasonably establish that the officer’s conduct constituted a marked departure from a reasonable level of care in the circumstances. He was entitled to initiate a pursuit in light of the man’s roadway infractions, and his subsequent conduct fell within the limits prescribed by the criminal law.”
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, firstname.lastname@example.org
SIU Communications/Service des communications, UES
Telephone/No de téléphone: 416-622-2342 or/ou 1-800-787-8529 extension 2342