SIU Director’s Report - Case # 20-OVI-112

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Mandate of the SIU

The Special Investigations Unit is a civilian law enforcement agency that investigates incidents involving police officers where there has been death, serious injury or allegations of sexual assault. The Unit’s jurisdiction covers more than 50 municipal, regional and provincial police services across Ontario. 

Under the Police Services Act, the Director of the SIU must determine based on the evidence gathered in an investigation whether an officer has committed a criminal offence in connection with the incident under investigation. If, after an investigation, there are reasonable grounds to believe that an offence was committed, the Director has the authority to lay a criminal charge against the officer. Alternatively, in all cases where no reasonable grounds exist, the Director does not lay criminal charges but files a report with the Attorney General communicating the results of an investigation.

Information Restrictions

Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (“FIPPA”)

Pursuant to section 14 of FIPPA (i.e., law enforcement), certain information may not be included in this report. This information may include, but is not limited to, the following: 
  • Confidential investigative techniques and procedures used by law enforcement agencies; and
  • Information whose release could reasonably be expected to interfere with a law enforcement matter or an investigation undertaken with a view to a law enforcement proceeding. 
Pursuant to section 21 of FIPPA (i.e., personal privacy), protected personal information is not included in this document. This information may include, but is not limited to, the following:
  • Subject Officer name(s);
  • Witness Officer name(s);
  • Civilian Witness name(s);
  • Location information; 
  • Witness statements and evidence gathered in the course of the investigation provided to the SIU in confidence; and 
  • Other identifiers which are likely to reveal personal information about individuals involved in the investigation.


Personal Health Information Protection Act, 2004 (“PHIPA”)

Pursuant to PHIPA, any information related to the personal health of identifiable individuals is not included. 

Other proceedings, processes, and investigations

Information may have also been excluded from this report because its release could undermine the integrity of other proceedings involving the same incident, such as criminal proceedings, coroner’s inquests, other public proceedings and/or other law enforcement investigations. 

Mandate Engaged

The Unit’s investigative jurisdiction is limited to those incidents where there is a serious injury (including sexual assault allegations) or death in cases involving the police.

“Serious injuries” shall include those that are likely to interfere with the health or comfort of the victim and are more than merely transient or trifling in nature and will include serious injury resulting from sexual assault. “Serious Injury” shall initially be presumed when the victim is admitted to hospital, suffers a fracture to a limb, rib or vertebrae or to the skull, suffers burns to a major portion of the body or loses any portion of the body or suffers loss of vision or hearing, or alleges sexual assault. Where a prolonged delay is likely before the seriousness of the injury can be assessed, the Unit should be notified so that it can monitor the situation and decide on the extent of its involvement.

This report relates to the SIU’s investigation into the injuries that a 34-year-old woman (the “Complainant”) suffered.

The Investigation

Notification of the SIU

On May 13, 2020, the Durham Regional Police Service (DRPS) contacted the SIU and reported an injury to the Complainant.

The DRPS reported that on May 12, 2020, at approximately 9:15 p.m., a uniformed police officer observed a reported stolen pickup truck in a parking lot at Glen Street and Wentworth Street in Oshawa. The driver of the pickup truck fled the lot when it was spotted by the police officer. The police officer called-in the stolen vehicle on the radio. A short time later, another uniformed police officer who was travelling southbound on Park Road South observed the stolen pickup going northbound. The police officer activated her roof lights and made a U-turn. The fleeing stolen pickup was involved in a collision with another vehicle in the area of Park Road South and King Street West. The occupants of the stolen vehicle fled on foot.

The Team

Number of SIU Investigators assigned: 4
Number of SIU Forensic Investigators assigned: 2

Complainant:

34-year-old female interviewed, medical records obtained and reviewed


Civilian Witnesses

CW Interviewed

Witness Officers

WO #1 Interviewed
WO #2 Interviewed 


Subject Officers

SO Interviewed, but declined to submit notes, as is the subject officer’s legal right.


Evidence

The Scene

The scene was at the intersection of Park Road South and King Street West. North of the intersection Park Road South turns into Park Road North. The roads were dry. Areas of interest were the centre of the intersection, the northeast corner of the intersection, and Park Road North, north of King Street West. The intersection was controlled by overhead traffic signals/lights. The traffic lights were functional and appeared to be working properly. 

Park Road South was oriented in a north-south direction. A yellow centre line divided the roadway. There were four lanes designated for vehicular traffic: two lanes for northbound traffic and two for southbound traffic. All the lanes were properly marked and clearly visible. 

King Street West was oriented in an east-west direction. It was a one-way street for eastbound travel. There were four lanes designated for vehicular traffic. A fifth, right turn lane, was visible on eastbound King Street West, west of Park Road South. All the lanes were properly marked and clearly visible, and the maximum speed was 50 km/h.

There was a downed hydro line that draped across the north and southbound lanes of Park Road North. One end of the wire was attached to a standing utility pole on the northwest corner and the other end was attached to a collapsed concrete pole. The collapsed pole was resting across the northbound lanes of Park Road North.

A large debris field littered the northbound lanes of Park Road North, north of King Street West. The initial point of impact (POI) was identified in the southwest quadrant of the intersection. Separate and corresponding tire marks, scrapes, and fluid trails were visible from the initial POI to where the vehicles were resting.


Vehicle #1:


  • 2012 beige-grey pickup;
  • Resting on sidewalk portion of Park Road North (northeast corner) and facing northbound; and
  • Extensive front-end and interior damage.


Vehicle #2:


  • 2008 silver Toyota RAV 4;
  • Resting in the southbound passing lane of Park Road North and facing south; and
  • Extensive front-end, complete passenger side, and interior damage.

Scene Diagram

Forensic Evidence 


Automatic Vehicle Locator (AVL) / Global Positioning System (GPS) / Crash Data Retrieval (CDR) data review


As per the CDR report, two-and-one-half seconds prior to the motor vehicle collision (or about 82 metres south of the motor vehicle collision) the pickup was travelling at about 130 km/h. The brakes were already applied. Therefore, the pickup was likely travelling in excess of 130 km/h while travelling northbound on Park Road South, south of the intersection of King Street West.

As per the AVL/GPS data from the SO’s cruiser, the SO approached the intersection slowing between 92 km/h and 53 km/h. The AVL/GPS data indicated the SO was travelling at least 140 km/h for a distance of about 500 metres while northbound on Park Road South, including through the traffic light-controlled intersection at Gibb Street.

Though the SO attained a maximum recorded speed of 149 km/h as she travelled northbound on Park Road South from Tresane Street to King Street West, her average speed over the distance was about 107 km/h. The SO had accelerated to over 140 km/h while travelling northbound on Park Road South but had reduced her speed significantly after passing John Street West.

Video/Audio/Photographic Evidence 

The SIU canvassed the area for any video or audio recordings, and photographic evidence, and was able to locate the following:
  • Closed-circuit Television (CCTV) footage from a business on King Street West;
  • CCTV footage from a Harvey’s Restaurant on Park Road North; and
  • UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) Video.


CCTV Footage from a Business on King Street West


The building was situated on the northwest corner of the intersection of King Street West and Park Road North. A camera situated on the premises had a view of the intersection and captured the motor vehicle collision when it occurred.

In the video, both vehicles came from the area of the top right corner of the screen and went from right to left pre- and post-collision. The time stamp on the video appeared to be consistent with, if not identical to, the time on the AVL data.

As seen on the video, there was other traffic moving in the area and at least one person was seen to exit a vehicle parked in front of the business. At 9:15:42 p.m., about three minutes prior to the motor vehicle collision, the SO’s police vehicle was observed travelling southbound on Park Road North at the intersection of King Street West. This was consistent with the point in time when the SO travelled southbound on Park Road South to look for the stolen pickup. The SO stopped briefly at the intersection and then proceeded southbound on Park Road South on a green traffic light signal.

At 9:18:25 p.m., the pedestrian signal for southbound traffic on the west side of Park Road South stopped flashing, consistent with the traffic signal light for Park Road South changing from green to red. There were no vehicles travelling eastbound on King Street West. There was a view of the headlights from the vehicles travelling northbound on Park Road South approaching the intersection. At 9:18:39 p.m., a vehicle which had been northbound on Park Road South stopped at the intersection of King Street West then turned right to travel eastbound on King Street West. No other vehicle travelled northbound.

At 9:18:41 p.m., headlights from the pickup were visible travelling northbound on Park Road South. The pickup was still an unknown distance south of King Street West. It was apparent the pickup was travelling very fast compared to other traffic seen on the video. At 9:18:46 p.m., the roof of the Complainant’s vehicle was visible travelling eastbound on King Street West and about to enter the intersection. Two or more other vehicles were also eastbound behind the Complainant. At 9:18:47 pm., the pickup entered the intersection and collided violently with the Complainant’s vehicle. The pickup then struck a pole in front of the Harvey’s restaurant. The Complainant’s vehicle spun around and rolled freely backwards to a stop north of the intersection. Steam and dust rose from both vehicles and a small fire ignited in the engine compartment of the pickup.

At the same time as the motor vehicle collision occurred, headlights from the SO’s police vehicle were visible travelling northbound on Park Road South; the SO’s police vehicle was still an unknown distance south of the intersection. It appeared as though the flashing emergency lights were activated but it was difficult to tell for sure due to the various signs and other objects situated in between the camera and the SO’s police vehicle which might have created a similar intermittent flashing effect given the distance the SO’s police vehicle was from the camera. Her police vehicle was the next vehicle behind the pickup travelling northbound on Park Road South. There were no vehicles in between the pickup and the SO’s police vehicle.

As the SO’s police vehicle got closer to the intersection, it was apparent her police vehicle was traveling significantly slower than the pickup, and it was clear the flashing emergency lights were activated. At 9:19:01 p.m., her police vehicle arrived at the intersection. The dust and debris from the motor vehicle collision had not yet settled. The SO’s police vehicle came to a full stop within the intersection a few seconds later. The headlights from her police vehicle travelling northbound were visible for about six seconds after the headlights from the pickup travelling northbound at about the same location. About seven seconds elapsed from when the pickup was visible travelling northbound until the pickup entered the intersection. About 14 seconds elapsed from when the SO’s police vehicle was visible travelling northbound, and when the motor vehicle collision occurred, until her police vehicle entered the intersection.


CCTV Footage from a Harvey’s Restaurant on Park Road North


Harvey’s restaurant was situated on the northeast corner of the intersection of Park Road North and King Street West. Two cameras captured part of the intersection including where the motor vehicle collision occurred and, though grainy due to the distance away, some of the northbound lanes of Park Road South, south of the intersection. The time stamp on the video appeared to be more than 20 minutes later than the actual time. The motor vehicle collision was seen to occur at 9:42:37 p.m.


UAV Video


This video, which showed only the aftermath of the incident, was not useful for the SIU’s investigation.

Police Communications Recordings


Radio Communications Recording


Beginning at 9:13:31 p.m., WO #1 reported to his dispatch the following:
  • He had seen a stolen brown pickup truck that was on the “be on the lookout” (BOLO) list;
  • He had maneuvered in behind it in a parking lot and it had taken off;
  • He did not know what direction it had gone;
  • He thought it went onto Wentworth Street and that it had one occupant; and
  • The stolen pickup had beaten up plates on it and he had not had a chance to light it up.

Beginning at 9:18:23 p.m., the SO broadcast that she could see the pickup on Park Road South going north approaching John Street. She reported the pickup was going into oncoming traffic lanes.

Beginning at 9:18:45 p.m., WO #2 told the dispatcher to mark her on the call as she was just behind the SO traveling north on Park Road South. [1]

At 9:18:51 p.m., the SO reported that the stolen pickup truck had been involved in a collision at King Street West and Park Road South.

Materials obtained from Police Service

Upon request, the SIU obtained and reviewed the following materials and documents from the DRPS:
  • Detailed Call Summary;
  • DRPS-Radio Communications;
  • Directive-Suspect Apprehension Pursuit Directive;
  • General Occurrence Hardcopy;
  • AVL / GPS data for police cruiser;
  • CDR Reports;
  • UAV photographs; and
  • UAV Video.

Materials obtained from Other Sources

In addition to the materials received from the DRPS, the SIU obtained and reviewed the following materials from other sources:
  • The Complainant’s Medical Records from Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre (SHSC);
  • CCTV footage from a Business, King Street West; and
  • CCTV footage from Harvey’s Restaurant, Park Road North.

Incident Narrative

The events in question are clear on the evidence collected by the SIU, which included interviews with the SO, a civilian eyewitness and a couple of witness officers. Video recordings of the collision captured by security cameras were also of great benefit to the investigation, as were the data downloaded from the pickup truck and the SO’s cruiser.

In the evening of the day in question, WO #1, while on patrol responding to a noise complaint at an address on Cedar Street, spotted a pickup truck that piqued his suspicion. The truck matched the description of a vehicle that had just come to his attention, via a BOLO report he had reviewed, as reported stolen. WO #1 followed the pickup for a short period but soon lost sight of the vehicle as it exited from a parking lot onto Glen Street. WO#1 radioed what he had seen.

The SO heard WO #1’s broadcast and soon came across a pickup truck matching the one described by her colleague. The pickup turned left in front of the officer to travel north on Park Road South as she was stopped facing a red light at Hillside Avenue. The SO looked back and observed the pickup accelerating northward in the south lanes of travel. She performed a U-turn at the intersection, turned on her emergency lights and started after the pickup.

The pickup and the SO’s police cruiser traveled north on Park Road South at speeds greatly in excess of the 50 km/h speed limit. The GPS data associated with the cruiser had the vehicle topping out at about 149 km/h. The pickup truck appears to have been traveling at least that fast at times given the SO was never able to close the distance between the vehicles.

At King Street West, the pickup truck entered the intersection on a red light and struck the passenger side of the Complainant’s vehicle, which was proceeding east. The collision sent the Complainant’s vehicle careening north where it stopped on Park Road North just north of the intersection. The pickup truck was sent in a northeast direction and collided with, and collapsed, a utility pole.

The SO arrived at the intersection about ten seconds after the collision. The occupants of the pickup truck fled the scene on foot. The Complainant was extricated from her vehicle and taken to hospital.

Relevant Legislation

Section 320.13(2), Criminal Code – Operation causing bodily harm


320.13(2) Everyone commits an offence who operates a conveyance in a manner that, having regard to all of the circumstances, is dangerous to the public and, as a result, causes bodily harm to another person.

Section 128(13)(b), Highway Traffic Act – Operation causing bodily harm


128(13) The speed limits prescribed under this section or any regulation or by-law passed under this section do not apply to,
(b) a police department vehicle being used in the lawful performance of a police officer’s duties.

Section 2(1), Suspect Apprehension Pursuits, O Reg 266/10 – Initiating or continuing pursuit


2. (1) A police officer may pursue, or continue to pursue, a fleeing motor vehicle that fails to stop,
(a) if the police officer has reason to believe that a criminal offence has been committed or is about to be committed; or
(b) for the purposes of motor vehicle identification or the identification of an individual in the vehicle.

Analysis and Director's Decision

On May 12, 2020, the Complainant was driving on King Street West in Oshawa when her vehicle was broadsided by a speeding pickup truck. The Complainant suffered serious injuries in the collision, including a pelvic fracture, spleen laceration and shoulder dislocation. Because the pickup truck was being pursued at the time by a DRPS officer, the SO, the SIU was notified and commenced an investigation. On my assessment of the evidence, there are no reasonable grounds to believe that the SO committed a criminal offence in connection with the collision.

The offence that arises for consideration is dangerous operation causing bodily harmcontrary to section 320.13(2) of the Criminal Code. The offence is predicated, in part, on conduct that amounts to a marked departure from the level of care that a reasonable person would have observed in the circumstances.

The speeds attained by the SO are a cause for concern. At close to 150 km/h, her maximum speed was three times the speed limit. In my view, as fast as she was traveling, the SO’s cruiser represented a danger on the roadway. That said, I am unable to reasonably conclude that the SO’s speed amounted to a marked deviation from a reasonable standard of care in the circumstances.

Aside from the SO’s speed, there is little on the record to criticize of the manner in which the officer operated her cruiser during her brief engagement with the pickup truck. There is, for example, no evidence that she disregarded traffic control signals or directly imperiled any third parties in the vicinity. Moreover, the SO appears to have activated her emergency lights from an early point and attempted, in the brief time she had available, to keep her communication centre informed of what she was doing. While the roadway was lined with a mix of residential and business premises, it appears that traffic was relatively light at the time. The roadway was dry and in good condition. Finally, as the SO was well back of the pickup truck – at least seven seconds behind – as it approached the intersection and collision site, there is no suggestion that the SO was so close as to prevent the pickup driver from operating the vehicle in a safe fashion.

The SO’s speed is further mitigated by section 128(13)(b) of the Highway Traffic Act, which exempts police officers in the lawful performance of their duties from speed limitations. While not providing free rein to police officers to speed as they wish without regard to public safety, I accept that the SO presumptively fell within the four corners of the provision. Given the information she had been provided by WO #1 over the radio, and her personal observations of the pickup truck and the manner in which it accelerated away from her, she had cause to believe the vehicle was stolen, and was within her rights in initiating a pursuit under O Reg 266/10.

On the aforementioned record, weighed in the context of what was a very brief pursuit and against the extenuating circumstances, I am satisfied that the SO’s speed did not transgress the limits of care prescribed by the criminal law. Accordingly, there is no basis for proceeding with criminal charges in this case and the file is closed.


Date: November 16, 2020

Electronically approved by

Joseph Martino
Director
Special Investigations Unit

Endnotes

  • 1) The AVL data from WO #2’s police cruiser indicate she was south of Hwy 401 on Park Road South and approximately 745 metres away from the SO when she performed the U-turn to follow the stolen pickup. When the SO stopped her police cruiser at the collision site, WO #2’s police cruiser was approximately 1.24 kilometres away on Park Street South. [Back to text]

Note:

The signed English original report is authoritative, and any discrepancy between that report and the French and English online versions should be resolved in favour of the original English report.