SIU Concludes Chatham Collision Investigation
Case Number: 05-OVD-058
The collision occurred when the driver of a Dodge Neon car lost control and collided with a tree on Indian Creek Line East. Vince Hopkins, a passenger in the car, suffered fatal injuries and was pronounced dead at the scene. The driver and a female passenger suffered serious injuries and were transported to hospital for treatment.
SIU investigators interviewed over 20 police and civilian witnesses to determine the extent of police involvement in the events surrounding the crash. Police notes, policies and communications tapes were reviewed and the collision scene was photographed, videotaped and measured.
The SIU investigation determined that at approximately 1:03 p.m., a CKPS officer in an unmarked cruiser saw the Neon car traveling at high speed westbound on Park Avenue East. The officer made a U-turn and began following the Neon. While on Queen Street, the officer activated the cruiser's emergency lights and siren and initiated a pursuit of the car. The officer advised the police dispatcher of his location, speeds, direction of travel, and that he was attempting to stop the car.
The Neon continued driving in an erratic manner eastbound on Indian Creek Line. As the vehicles approached Creek Road, the officer discontinued the pursuit out of safety concerns. The officer slowed down and about 20 seconds later, the officer saw the driver lose control of the Neon. The car flipped onto its side, slid across the road, and struck a hydro pole and a tree on the front lawn of 9005 Indian Creek Line. The officer advised the dispatcher of the collision and requested an ambulance.
The evidence indicates the police pursuit lasted about 1 minute and 42 seconds.
Based on all the available evidence, Director Cornish concluded the subject officer was lawfully engaged in the execution of his duties. The Director stated, "Just about the same time this accident occurred, the officer determined that the pursuit was too dangerous to continue and he announced that he was backing off. The evidence in this case does not support a reasonable belief that a criminal driving offence occurred."
The SIU is an independent government agency that investigates the conduct of officials (police officers as well as special constables with the Niagara Parks Commission and peace officers with the Legislative Protective Service) that may have resulted in death, serious injury, sexual assault and/or the discharge of a firearm at a person. All investigations are conducted by SIU investigators who are civilians. Under the Special Investigations Unit Act, the Director of the SIU must
- consider whether the official has committed a criminal offence in connection with the incident under investigation
- depending on the evidence, cause a criminal charge to be laid against the official where grounds exist for doing so, or close the file without any charges being laid
- publicly report the results of its investigations
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