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News Release

SIU Concludes Investigation into London Collision

Case Number: 05-OVD-122

TORONTO (14 September, 2005) --- James Cornish, the Director of the Special Investigations Unit (SIU), has concluded there is no reasonable basis to believe that a London Police Service (LPS) officer is criminally responsible for a collision that occurred on August 17, 2005, in London.

The collision occurred on Highway 402 when a SUV, being pursued by police, lost control and rolled a number of times. As a result, all four occupants in the car were ejected. Sean McGrath and Richard Talisse died from their injuries and Michael Czajkowski and Akili Roberts were seriously injured.

As part of the SIU investigation, over 30 police and civilian witnesses were interviewed. Forensic identification technicians photographed, videotaped and mapped the collision scene and examined the severely damaged SUV and the cruisers involved in the pursuit. No projectile strikes were found on the SUV. An AR-15 fully automatic rifle, 3 handguns and a significant quantity of watches and jewellery were scattered in the debris.

The SIU investigation determined that on August 17 at approximately 1:44 p.m., four men robbed Anstett Jewellery store in White Oaks Mall. An LPS officer working patrol duties in a marked cruiser, heard on the radio dispatch that four men had robbed a jewellery store and had fled in a white minivan. He saw the van on Jalna Boulevard and followed it. The officer saw a man moving in the back of the van and then heard a loud bang. The officer was sprayed with glass and saw a bullet hole in the cruiser's windshield. He told the dispatcher that shots had been fired and that cruisers should stay back from the white van.

The police lost sight of the van but two citizens, who were also shot at, followed it to the Earl Nicholls Arena. At the arena, the men switched from the van to a gold coloured Mercedes Benz SUV. Moments later, LPS officers arrived and pursued the SUV through southern London and into the village of Lambeth. During the pursuit, a man was seen standing up in the SUV's sunroof with a rifle shooting or pointing the gun at the officers. The SUV was weaving and swerving through traffic, traveling south on Colonel Talbot Road. It entered the eastbound lanes of Highway 402 and accelerated away from the pursuing officers.

While on the highway, the SUV attempted to pass a stake truck by going onto the gravel shoulder on the passenger side of the truck. The corner of the SUV struck the corner of the truck. The SUV passed the truck, entered the paved portion of the eastbound lane of the highway, and then rolled a number of times. It came to rest in the grass median. Mr. McGrath died at the scene and Mr. Talisse died shortly after he arrived at the hospital. Mr. Czajkowski and Mr. Roberts were treated for their serious injuries and are now in police custody.

Director Cornish concluded the officers involved in this incident were confronted with a very dangerous situation that constituted a clear and unmistakable threat to the safety of the general public. He stated, "The officers involved had the authority to pursue the SUV and the duty to apprehend the occupants of the SUV. The police did not fire any shots and the deaths and injuries caused by this crash are not attributable to police conduct."

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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SIU Communications/Service des communications, UES
Telephone/No de téléphone: 416-622-2342 or/ou 1-800-787-8529 extension 2342