SIU Concludes Investigation into Collision in Hamilton
Case Number: 08-OVI-130
SIU Director James Cornish has concluded: "On the totality of the evidence, I do not believe that the actions of the officers caused or contributed to the collision that resulted in serious injuries to a blameless civilian, who had the great misfortune of being a passenger in a car that was struck by another vehicle."
On Saturday July 5, 2008 at approximately 12:30 p.m., two Hamilton Police Service officers were in their cruiser at a parking lot at the corner of Holton Avenue South and King Street East when they heard the sound of screeching tires. The officers were investigating the cause of that noise when they approached and then followed a Nissan Pathfinder.
After spotting the Pathfinder turning left onto Proctor Blvd. from King Street, the officers activated the cruiser's emergency roof lights, in order to proceed safely against the designated flow of traffic on a one-way street, and drove towards the vehicle to investigate. The Pathfinder, however, made a U-Turn and headed back towards King Street. East. The officers lost sight of the SUV, but pedestrians assisted them by gesturing that the vehicle had made a right turn onto Gibson Avenue.
The officers turned onto Gibson Avenue where they noticed the SUV roll over onto its roof through the intersection of Gibson Avenue and Wilson Street. With their view restricted by parked cars, the officers had not seen the SUV fail to stop at a stop sign and collide with a Toyota Corolla with three occupants.
"The officers never got very close to the vehicle involved in this incident," noted Mr. Cornish. "Indeed, all the civilian witnesses interviewed by the SIU agree with the officers on this point. None of the witnesses say that the officers were traveling quickly, and all of them tell of a significant gap between the cruiser and the Pathfinder right up to the time that the Pathfinder struck the car on Wilson Street."
A Charlton Street resident, 53-year-old Ventura Polio, a passenger in the back seat of the Corolla, remains in Hamilton General Hospital recovering from serious injuries including a broken pelvis.
Five SIU investigators - three field investigators and two forensic investigators - as well as the SIU's Collision Reconstructionist were assigned to this case. The two officers - one subject officer and one witness officer - were interviewed as were six civilian witnesses, who came forward with information during a canvas of the area by the investigators. Communication tapes and vehicle examination/collision reports from the Hamilton Police Service were also reviewed.
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.