No Reasonable Grounds to Believe Officer Criminally Responsible for Injuries to a Barrie Man who Crashed Car and Jumped Retaining Wall
Case Number: 15-OCI-268
Other News Releases Related to Case 15-OCI-268
(31 August, 2016) ---
The Acting Director of the Special Investigations Unit has determined there are no reasonable grounds to lay criminal charges against a police officer in an incident in which a Barrie man was seriously injured when he fled from police, crashed his vehicle, then jumped a high retaining wall.
Four investigators and two forensic investigators were assigned to this incident.
The SIU interviewed the injured man, three civilian witnesses, and four witness officers. 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 Unit’s investigation also included analysis of civilian video of some of the incident, review of police communications and 911 call logs, as well as collision reconstruction and analysis of evidence collected at the scene.
The SIU investigation found the following:
- Shortly after 8:30 p.m. on November 11, 2015, officers received a call about a domestic assault.
- Realizing the police had been called, a 20-year-old man fled a residence and was driving east on Gibbon Drive when he encountered the subject officer, who was driving west on the same street.
- The officer turned his cruiser around in order to follow the vehicle.
- Seconds later, the vehicle ran a stop sign at Gibbon Drive and Anne Street North and was t-boned by a northbound SUV.
- The man ran into a wooded area on the east side of Anne Street, where he jumped a retaining wall fence that bordered a playground. The man fell approximately eight metres to the ground.
- He was taken to the Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre and diagnosed with bleeding to his brain.
Acting Director Joseph Martino said, “There are no reasonable grounds in my view to believe that the pursuing officer and the subject of this investigation committed a criminal offence in connection with the man’s arrest and injuries.
“The officer was barely into the chase when the collision occurred. A video recording captured by a civilian depicts the officer’s cruiser arriving at the intersection about five seconds after the collision, about the same time as the 20-year-old is seen exiting his vehicle and fleeing on foot. In essence, the pursuit was over before it began. Indeed, it appears the man was not even aware that he was being followed at any point. On this record, it is apparent that the officer exercised a level of care that fell well within the limits prescribed by the criminal law and there are, therefore, no grounds to proceed with charges against the officer based on his operation of the cruiser.
“Turning to the foot pursuit that ensued, there is no suggestion that the man’s decision to scale and jump over a fenced retaining wall, falling some eight metres to the ground below, was anything other than the product of an attempt to elude capture. There is nothing to indicate, for example, that the officer made contact with the man at any time during what was a very brief foot pursuit in a wooded area. In fact, the evidence from the video recording has the officer some three seconds behind the man as they disappear from the camera’s lens into the field.
“In the final analysis, the officer was within his rights in pursuing the man initially in his cruiser and then on foot as the man fled the scene of a violent domestic assault and ran from the collision he had caused. In neither case, I am satisfied, was the officer negligent or anything less than professional in discharging his duty. Accordingly, this file is closed with no charges laid.”
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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