SIU Investigation into Toronto Collision Finds Charges not Warranted
Case Number: 16-TVI-016
(13 February, 2017) ---
The Director of the Special Investigations Unit, Tony Loparco, has determined there are no reasonable grounds to lay criminal charges against a Toronto Police Service (TPS) officer in relation to the vehicle injuries sustained by two men in January of 2016 in Toronto.
Five investigators, two forensic investigators and one collision reconstructionist were assigned to this incident.
The SIU interviewed nine civilian witnesses and four witness officers. The subject officer participated in an SIU interview and provided a copy of his duty notes.
The Unit’s investigation also included the review of Automated Vehicle Locator data for the subject officer’s vehicle, photographs taken by witnesses and a video recording captured by a security camera from a home in the vicinity.
The SIU investigation found the following:
- In the early afternoon hours of Tuesday, January 19, 2016, the subject officer was in a police van with three other officers in the area of Bathurst Street and Sheppard Avenue.
- When the police officers observed a man of interest operating a BMW in the area, the subject officer decided to follow the vehicle.
- The driver of the BMW, a 23-year-old male, quickly realized he was being followed by the police van. He responded by driving faster. He first turned north onto Bryant Street, then east onto Cocksfield Avenue before turning north again onto Hove Street, which eventually turns into Combe Avenue. The driver of the BMW was speeding dangerously, driving on the wrong side of the road and disregarding multiple stop signs in the process.
- At the same time, a 45-year-old man was driving south on Wilmington Avenue. When his van entered the Wilmington Avenue/Combe Avenue intersection, it was broadsided by the BMW which had been traveling west on Combe Avenue. The BMW driver had not heeded the stop sign for westbound traffic.
- The impact sent both vehicles careening into the yard of a home located nearby. Both drivers sustained multiple serious injuries.
Director Loparco said, “The offence that arises for consideration is dangerous driving causing bodily harm pursuant to section 249 of the Criminal Code. The offence is predicated on conduct that amounts to a marked departure from the level of care that a reasonable person would have exercised in the circumstances. The evidence indicates that the subject officer drove carefully and with due regard for the traffic around him at all times. With minor exception, the officer complied with the stop signs along the route and drove in and around the speed limit. On two occasions, the police van accelerated to over 80 km/h; on neither occasion, however, does it appear that motorists or pedestrian traffic in the vicinity were imperilled by the officer’s speed. It is also worth noting the favourable environmental conditions at the time of the events in question. Indeed, the fact that traffic in the area was light, the roads were dry and in good shape, and visibility was good probably explains why the BMW driver got as far as he did before causing an accident.”
Director Loparco continued, “Moreover, when one considers the significant distance between the two vehicles for the better part of their engagement, there is nothing to suggest that the subject officer needlessly fueled the man’s dangerous driving. The nearest the officer ever got to the BMW was on Sheppard Avenue where some of the evidence has the officer as close as two to three car lengths behind. The man had every opportunity to safely desist from his reckless course was he inclined to do so. As for whether the subject officer was involved in a “pursuit” as such, I am satisfied that he was not. At no point did he signal the BMW driver to stop his vehicle or engage in the sort of aggressive driving which might suggest he was trying to catch the BMW. In fact, the officers lost sight of the BMW on Hove Street, and only came across the collision approximately two minutes after it occurred with the help of civilians in the area who had seen the BMW racing west toward Wilmington Avenue. In the circumstances, I am satisfied on reasonable ground that the subject officer comported himself well within the limits of care prescribed by the criminal law and that there are, therefore, no grounds to proceed with criminal charges against him.”
The SIU is an independent government agency that investigates the conduct of officials (police officers as well as special constables with the Niagara Parks Commission and peace officers with the Legislative Protective Service) that may have resulted in death, serious injury, sexual assault and/or the discharge of a firearm at a person. All investigations are conducted by SIU investigators who are civilians. Under the Special Investigations Unit Act, the Director of the SIU must
- consider whether the official has committed a criminal offence in connection with the incident under investigation
- depending on the evidence, cause a criminal charge to be laid against the official where grounds exist for doing so, or close the file without any charges being laid
- publicly report the results of its investigations
Lisez ce communiqué en français.
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