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News Release

SIU Concludes Investigation into Fatal Ottawa Collision

Case Number: 05-OVD-152

TORONTO (4 November, 2005) --- James Cornish, the Director of the Special Investigations Unit (SIU), has concluded that an Ottawa Police Service (OPS) officer is not criminally liable in relation to a fatal collision that resulted in the tragic death of Natalie Sylvestre.

On September 17, 2005, an OPS officer was driving a prisoner in a marked cruiser when it became involved in a collision with a taxicab with two female passengers. Ms. Sylvestre was one of two passengers in the cab and suffered fatal injuries.

Six SIU investigators arrived at the scene to start the investigation into the circumstances of the collision. Evidentiary items from the scene were retrieved and analyzed, the scene was documented and the involved vehicles were forensically examined. The surrounding area was canvassed for witnesses and a total of nine interviews were conducted. Police reports and communications tapes were also reviewed.

The SIU investigation found that an OPS officer arrested a man in the area of Uplands and Riverside Drives in Ottawa and placed him in the rear of a police cruiser. The officer left for the police station at 3:30 a.m., traveling northbound on Riverside Drive. The cruiser's emergency equipment was not activated.

At about 3:37 a.m., the officer entered the intersection of Riverside and Heron. While in the intersection, the cruiser and a taxicab traveling eastbound on Heron Road, came into collision with each other. The taxicab driver and Ms. Sylvestre were ejected from the cab. Ms. Sylvestre died at the scene. The cab driver and the other passenger were taken to hospital where they were treated for their injuries. The officer and his prisoner suffered minor injuries.

Based upon the totality of all the evidence, Director Cornish concluded the officer's driving fell well within the limits prescribed by the criminal law and is not criminally responsible for this tragic death.

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. 
SIU Communications/Service des communications, UES
Telephone/No de téléphone: 416-622-2342 or/ou 1-800-787-8529 extension 2342