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News Release

SIU Closes Investigation into Chatham-Kent Vehicle Death

Case Number: 10-OVD-014

Mississauga (12 March, 2010) --- The Special Investigations Unit (SIU) has reviewed the facts around the January 2010 vehicle death of 36-year-old Michael Henderson. Ian Scott, the Director of the SIU, has concluded there are no reasonable grounds to believe a Chatham-Kent Police Service officer committed a criminal offence in this case.

The SIU assigned five investigators and three forensic investigators to probe the circumstances of this incident. The investigation found that the following events took place on January 28:
* In the late morning, two cruisers were traveling northbound on Bear Line Road in response to a complaint about erratic driving by a man driving a pickup truck. The subject officer and another officer were in the second marked cruiser.
* All of a sudden, the first cruiser drove abruptly onto the east shoulder of the road as a pickup truck was driving straight toward the two cruisers in the northbound lane.
* The subject officer took evasive action, and then made a three-point turn, initiating a pursuit. The driver of the truck, later identified as Mr. Henderson, continued to drive southbound in the wrong lane, forcing another car off the road. The officer activated his roof lights and continued the pursuit, staying in communication with the Communications Centre. He communicated the traffic and road conditions to the dispatch supervisor.
* Mr. Henderson entered the T-junction at the corner of Bear Line Rd and Grand River Line, went onto the south shoulder, spun out, and then went westbound along Grand River Line. The subject officer continued to follow. Mr. Henderson lost control of his truck, crossed over into the eastbound lane, left the roadway and went onto the front lawn of 7840 Grande River Line, shearing a number of trees from their trunks and coming to rest around another tree.
* The speedometer was stuck at the point of impact at roughly 110 km/hr. Mr. Henderson died as a result of the trauma from the collision. The entire pursuit lasted approximately one minute.

Director Scott said, "The subject officer had the lawful authority to enter the pursuit pursuant to ss. 3(1) of the 'Suspect Apprehension Pursuits' regulation to the Police Services Act because he had reason to believe that the criminal offence of dangerous driving was being committed. Given the gravity of the erratic driving and the light road conditions, he could reasonably conclude that the need to apprehend the suspect outweighed the risk to public safety, as he is mandated to do by ss. 3(3) of the same regulation. It appears that Mr. Henderson lost control of his pickup truck on a virtually straight roadway in the middle of the day. I am satisfied in the circumstances, particularly in light of the officer's compliance with the provisions of the 'Suspect Apprehension Pursuits' regulation and the internal directives of the Communications Centre, that he exercised a level of care that fell well within the limits prescribed by the criminal law".

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. 

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