SIU Concludes Investigation into Motor Vehicle Collision Involving Ontario Provincial Police
Case Number: 08-PVI-140
"In my view, there are no reasonable grounds to believe that the subject officer committed any criminal offence in this matter," concluded SIU Director James Cornish.
The collision took place on Friday July 11, 2008 at approximately 9:30 a.m. at Highway 62 and County Road 14 in Thurlow Township north of Belleville. An OPP officer was responding to assist another officer with a non-emergency call and therefore had not activated the cruiser's emergency lighting. She stopped for the stop sign and then proceeded into the intersection believing it to be a four-way stop, not seeing a van coming towards her vehicle.
Mr. Cornish noted: " The van was being driven appropriately and its driver would have had no reason to suspect that the officer was about to pull out into the intersection given that the intersection was, in fact, a two-way stop for east and westbound traffic on County Road 14 only. It was too late for the southbound driver to take evasive action and the two vehicles collided and spun out of control." .../2
As a result of the collision, a female passenger in the van suffered a fractured knee; the driver and the OPP officer were treated at the Quinte Health Centre for their injuries.
The subsequent SIU investigation found that the day of the incident was the officer's first day traveling without a coach officer in an area of the province with which she was unfamiliar.
In considering the possibility of criminal charges, Mr. Cornish said: "Simple negligence is not sufficient to create criminal liability. What is required is conduct that constitutes a marked departure from the level of care that a reasonable person would have exercised in the circumstances. Although this case may well constitute a breach of certain rules of the road, in my view, it falls short of constituting conduct that can appropriately be characterized as criminal in nature. In arriving at this determination, I note that the lapse in care was a momentary one and the fact that the officer was driving in unfamiliar territory. For these reasons, I am of the view that there are no reasonable grounds to support the charge of dangerous driving or dangerous driving causing bodily harm, both of which are based on a marked departure finding. It will for the OPP to review the matter in the context of the Highway Traffic Act."
The SIU assigned four field investigators, two forensic investigators and an accident reconstructionist to this case, which included a review of police communications tapes and interviews with five civilian witnesses.
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.