No Charges in Matter where Motorcycles Fled from Windsor Police and Collided
Case Number: 15-OVI-218
Other News Releases Related to Case 15-OVI-218
(23 August, 2016) ---
The Acting Director of the Special Investigations Unit has determined that no further action is necessary in a case where three motorcycles sped away from a Windsor Police cruiser and two later collided, seriously injuring one rider.
Four investigators, two forensic investigators, and one collision reconstructionist were assigned to this incident.
The subject officer provided a copy of his duty notes but did not participate in an SIU interview, as was his legal right. Eight witness officers were interviewed, including the officer who was a passenger in the cruiser that followed the motorcycles. Six civilian witnesses were also interviewed. The complainant (injured person) declined to be interviewed as did the second motorcyclist involved in the collision. The third motorcyclist was never identified.
The Unit’s investigation also included collision reconstruction and analysis, a review of video recordings captured by cameras situated at various points along the route, and analysis of GPS data relating to the subject officer’s cruiser at the times in question.
The SIU investigation found the following:
- Shortly after midnight on September 23, 2015, three men were driving motorcycles north on Ouellette Avenue near Giles Boulevard.
- The subject officer and a witness officer were together on patrol and noticed the motorcyclists speeding and driving recklessly.
- The officers followed the motorcyclists on Ouellette Avenue.
- As the vehicles turned left to travel west on Riverside Drive, the officers turned on the cruiser’s emergency lights in an effort to have the motorcyclists pull over.
- At that point, two of the motorcycles sped away from the officers at speeds well in excess of 100 km/h.
- In the area of Janette Avenue, the officers activated their siren and the third motorcycle sped away.
- The officers lost sight of all three motorcycles.
- Shortly after, near Campbell Avenue, two of the motorcyclists collided with each other, lost control of their bikes and crashed.
- One of the motorcyclists, a man, suffered a broken left ankle and was taken to hospital. The other male motorcyclist did not suffer any serious injuries.
SIU Acting Director Joseph Martino said, “The offence that arises for consideration is dangerous driving under section 249 of the Criminal Code. Liability under the section is premised on conduct that amounts to a marked departure from the level of care that a reasonable person would have exercised in the circumstances. On the record gathered in this investigation, I find there was very little if anything the officers did wrong. Given the speeds of the motorcycles and the manner in which they were being operated, the officers were well within their rights when they first began to follow and then attempted to stop the motorcyclists for traffic infractions. When it became clear that the motorcycles were not about to stop, there is no indication that the officers picked up their own speed in an effort to keep pace. On the contrary, appreciating the futility and public safety implications of attempting to chase down the motorcycles, the officers very deliberately maintained a safe speed (never exceeding 90 km/h) and simply followed on Riverside Drive until they came upon the downed bikes. In none of this can it be said that the officers endangered public safety either in the manner of their own operation of the cruiser or by unduly pushing the motorcyclists. In fact, the officers were a significant distance behind at the time of the collision. Worth noting as well were the favourable environmental conditions at the time: the roads were dry, the weather was clear and traffic was light.
“In the final analysis, I am satisfied that the care exercised by the officers in the course of this short-lived pursuit – no longer than about one and half kilometres – fell well within the limits prescribed by the criminal law. Accordingly, there are no reasonable 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.
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