No Further Action Contemplated in High-Speed Collision where Niagara Regional Police Officer Pursued a Speeding Vehicle
Case Number: 15-OVI-255
Other News Releases Related to Case 15-OVI-255
(29 August, 2016) ---
The Acting Director of the Special Investigations Unit has determined that no further action is necessary in an incident where a Niagara Regional Police officer pursued a speeding car that crashed into a tractor trailer and careened into a ditch.
Five investigators and two forensic investigators were assigned to this incident.
The SIU interviewed the injured woman and seven civilian witnesses (including the driver of the tractor trailer that was struck). Three witness officers were interviewed, as was the subject officer. The subject officer did not provide a copy of his duty notes, as is his legal right.
The Unit’s investigation also included a security video recording from an area business, as well as collision reconstruction and analysis of evidence collected at the scene.
The SIU investigation found the following:
- A little after 11:00 p.m. on November 2, 2015, a Niagara Regional Police officer was travelling south on Stevensville Road south of Main Street when he clocked a vehicle travelling north at 96 km/hr, almost twice the speed limit.
- The officer performed a U-turn, activated his emergency lights, and attempted to catch up to the vehicle. The vehicle did not slow down and the officer was unable to close the gap between the two vehicles.
- Not long after, the driver of a tractor trailer that was travelling east along Netherby Road pulled into the intersection at Netherby and Stevensville Road. He stopped part way through the intersection when he spotted the speeding vehicle approaching.
- Unable to avoid the tractor trailer, the speeding vehicle swerved then struck the front end of the truck before continuing some 150 metres, crashing into a ditch, and striking a tree.
- The 22-year-old female driver of the car suffered numerous facial and upper body fractures.
Acting Director Joseph Martino said, “I am unable on the evidence gathered in this investigation to find any fault in the conduct of the subject officer. He was within his rights to pursue the woman when she sped past him on Stevensville Road. Thereafter, there is no suggestion that he unduly pushed the woman or contributed to the danger on the roadway in the manner of his own driving. In fact, the opposite is true. The woman was already speeding before she went past the officer and there is no indication that she was ever aware of his cruiser’s presence behind her as she continued at speed.
“The officer, for his part, maintained a safe distance behind the woman at all times and gave her every opportunity to come to a safe stop had she been so inclined. The officer’s decision to pursue is probably also the reason this incident did not end in greater tragedy. The trucker, for example, says he first noticed the woman’s vehicle barrelling up the roadway when he turned in that direction at the sight of the cruiser’s emergency lighting. He was consequently able to bring his tractor trailer to a stop midway through the intersection, likely averting a more devastating impact with the speeding vehicle.
“Worth noting as well were the favourable conditions at the time: the roads were dry and in good repair, and the weather was clear.
“On this record, it is evident the subject officer exercised a level of care in his brief engagement with the woman that fell well within the limits prescribed by the criminal law. Accordingly, there are no grounds for proceeding with criminal charges in this case and the file is closed.”
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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