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News Release

SIU Concludes Investigation into Guelph Vehicle Death

Case Number: 15-PVD-301

Mississauga, ON (23 March, 2017) ---
The Director of the Special Investigations Unit, Tony Loparco, has determined there are no reasonable grounds to lay criminal charges against an Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) officer who was pursuing a vehicle which ultimately struck and killed a female pedestrian in December of 2015.

Seven investigators, two forensic investigators and one collision reconstructionist were assigned to this incident.

The SIU interviewed six civilian witnesses and six 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 the review of forensic evidence gathered from the scene, the collision reconstruction report, automated vehicle locator (AVL) data from the subject officer’s cruiser and video footage from multiple businesses along the route of the pursuit.

The SIU investigation found the following:
  • In the early morning hours of December 13, 2015, members of the OPP and the Guelph Police Service set up a joint operation RIDE spot check within the City of Guelph. 
  • Shortly before 2:35 a.m., a man operating an SUV approached the spot check located at Rose Street and Arthur Street North, where the subject officer was set up. The subject officer signaled for the man to pull his vehicle over. While the man did initially slow down, he suddenly accelerated past the subject officer, almost striking the officer who was between two to three steps away from the vehicle at the time. 
  • The subject officer got into his cruiser, activated his emergency roof lights and drove off in pursuit of the man. 
  • The man drove westbound on MacDonnell Street, and then turned north on Woolwich Street. Multiple security videos obtained from businesses and organizations along both MacDonnell Street and Woolwich Street show that the subject officer was in close proximity to the vehicle being pursued, with the cruiser’s emergency roof lights activated. 
  • As the man drove north on Woolwich Street, he approached the signalled five-way intersection of Woolwich Street, Norfolk Street, Norwich Street West and Norwich Street East. As the man entered the intersection, he veered to the right at a high rate of speed in an apparent attempt to continue along northeast Woolwich Street. The man lost control of the vehicle which travelled across the southbound lanes of Woolwich Street and collided with the west curb. The vehicle mounted the west sidewalk and struck a utility pole just north of Charles Street at a speed between 116-125 km/h. The car flipped onto its roof and slid along the sidewalk and roadway. 
  • 24-year-old Grace Glofcheskie, who had been walking on the west sidewalk of Woolwich Street at this time, was struck by the SUV. Ms. Glofcheskie was rushed to Guelph General Hospital where she succumbed to her injuries. 

Director Loparco said, “The offence that warrants consideration in these circumstances is dangerous driving causing death contrary to subsection 249(4) of the Criminal Code. As a crime of penal negligence, liability is premised on more than simple negligence. Specifically, it is a crime of objective fault characterized by actions that amount to a marked departure from the level of care that a reasonable person would have exercised in the circumstances. In these circumstances, I am unable to say that the subject officer’s conduct rose to the requisite standard. 

“The subject officer’s driving was objectively dangerous, and could very well satisfy the actus reus of the offence. He was travelling at speeds in excess of 68 km over the speed limit, in a commercial/residential area. However, the factual context does not allow me to conclude that the driving amounted to a marked departure from the standard of care that a reasonable person in the same situation as the officer would have exercised in the circumstances. The pursuit occurred at approximately 2:30 a.m. when the four-lane roadway of Woolwich Street was almost empty. Moreover, while the collision ultimately occurred in a more residential area, the majority of the pursuit occurred in a largely commercial area devoid of foot traffic at that time of day.  Further, the roads were dry and the pursuit was short-lived, lasting only approximately 40 seconds over a distance of 1.2 kilometres.” 

Director Loparco continued, “The most significant fact is that as the man approached the five-way intersection, it appears from the AVL data and video footage that the subject officer was slowing down and backing off the pursuit. This is further corroborated by a Guelph Police Service officer who saw the pursuit and followed behind. This officer observed that the man did not slow down as he attempted to proceed through the five-way intersection, but that the subject officer did slow down.” 

Director Loparco concluded, “The full body of evidence does not furnish me with reasonable grounds to believe that the subject officer is criminally culpable for Ms. Glofcheskie’s tragic death. Consequently, no charges will issue and this file will be 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. 

Lisez ce communiqué en français.

Monica Hudon, monica.hudon@ontario.ca
SIU Communications/Service des communications, UES
Telephone/No de téléphone: 416-622-2342 or/ou 1-800-787-8529 extension 2342