SIU Concludes Investigation into Windsor Traffic Fatality
Case Number: 09-OVD-272
Other News Releases Related to Case 09-OVD-272
The SIU assigned five investigators and two forensic investigators to probe the circumstances of this incident.
The SIU investigation determined that on the evening of Monday, October 19, 2009, the subject officer was driving a marked police cruiser eastbound on Wyandotte Street toward a location to assist an ambulance waiting to be escorted to hospital. The officer was responding to a Priority #1 call, which is the highest level of call out. This is used in life threatening situations where serious injuries are believed to have occurred or will likely occur, thus requiring immediate police assistance. As the officer approached the intersection of Wyandotte Street and Langlois Avenue, he was traveling significantly in excess of the 50 km/hr speed limit with emergency equipment activated. Meanwhile, another vehicle, in which 56-year-old Nancy Theoret was a passenger, was traveling southbound on Langlois St. just north of Wyandotte Avenue. The driver of this vehicle drove into the intersection in front of the police cruiser resulting in a collision between the vehicle and the subject officer's cruiser. Regrettably Ms. Theoret was struck and died from her injuries.
Director Scott said, "I remind myself when reviewing the issue of dangerous driving that I am not to consider the tragic outcome of this incident. It is unnecessary to prove that the lives or safety of others were actually endangered in order to have probable cause that dangerous driving took place: While speed in itself can constitute dangerous driving in my view this test must be modified in circumstances where a police officer has the lawful authority to speed. Here, the subject officer was responding to a Priority #1 call. Pursuant to ss. 128(13)(b) of the Highway Traffic Act, 'a motor vehicle being used by a person in the lawful performance of his or her duties as a police officer' is exempt from the speed limit regulations. Going back to the test for dangerous driving in R. v. Hundal (1993), 79 C.C.C. (3d) 97, one must ask if the officer's conduct was a marked departure from the standard of care that a reasonable person would observe in the subject officer's situation. I am of the view that his driving was not a marked departure for a similarly situated police officer. Not only did the subject officer have the authority to exempt himself from the speed limit because he was in the lawful performance of his duties, but his emergency equipment was activated. As well, the road was straight and the weather conditions were good. Accordingly, no criminal liability may be attached to the subject officer's driving, notwithstanding this tragic outcome."
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.