SIU Director’s Report - Case # 20-PVI-250
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Mandate of the SIU
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.
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.
- 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.
Pursuant to PHIPA, any information related to the personal health of identifiable individuals is not included.
Personal Health Information Protection Act, 2004 (“PHIPA”)
Other proceedings, processes, and investigationsInformation 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.
“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 serious injuries sustained by a 28-year-old man (the “Complainant”).
Notification of the SIUOn Sunday, October 4, at 1:54 a.m., the Ontario Provincial police (OPP) notified the SIU of the following.
The OPP reported that on October 3, 2020, at approximately 9:15 p.m., two police officers were in a marked cruiser travelling westbound along Raymond Street in Clarence-Rockland.
They came upon a motorcycle rider who was stopped on the shoulder of the road. They pulled over to see if the driver required assistance.
As soon as they stopped and exited the police cruiser, the rider of the motorcycle got on the bike and drove away at a high rate of speed. He quickly lost control and dumped the bike. The police officers ran to the downed bike to check on the rider. He was transported to the Ottawa Hospital - Civic Campus by Emergency Medical Services (EMS) and diagnosed with a fractured clavicle.
The TeamNumber of SIU Investigators assigned: 3
Number of SIU Forensic Investigators assigned: 1
The SIU Forensic Investigator completed a scene examination and took photographs. Also, a police cruiser and motorcycle were examined for any fresh impact or other marks consistent with a recent collision; nothing of the sort was found. The route was video-recorded.
Complainant:28-year-old male interviewed, medical records obtained and reviewed
Civilian WitnessesCW Interviewed
Witness OfficersWO Interviewed
Subject OfficersSO Declined interview and to provide notes, as is the subject officer’s legal right
The SceneThe area was primarily low density residential, with single, semi-detached, and townhouse dwellings. The roadways were asphalt and were generally flat, and the speed limit was an unposted 50 km/h.
The route commenced at the cross intersection of Laviolette and Raymond Streets, controlled by stop signs in all four directions. The route proceeded in a southwest direction on Raymond Street (general direction is westbound) to the next intersection at Charron Street (70 metres), also controlled by stop signs in all four directions. It then continued through the intersection on Raymond Street, where the roadway began a soft S-bend to the right, crossing the intersection of Eliot Street (160 metres, which was controlled by a stop sign). When passing Eliot Street, the S-bend straightened and reversed direction to begin a soft curve to the left. The curve straightened out, and it was at this point the route stopped, in front of 2673 Raymond Street (80 metres). The total distance from the beginning of the route to the end was 310 metres.
There were marks on the roadway for a distance of 11.8 metres along and near the north curb indicating that, at that point, a motorcycle was sliding in a westerly direction, leaving black tire marks and other scrapes on the surface, as well as into wet dirt and mud next to the curb. There were no obvious impact marks on the roadway at that location or further east of the other marks.
Figure 1 - Google Earth Pro image, edited to show where marks were found on the roadway.
Summary of Automatic Vehicle Locator (AVL) and Global Positioning System (GPS) Data
The route travelled by the SO was relatively minimal in distance. It commenced at the intersection of Raymond and Laviolette Streets in the town of Rockland. The OPP vehicle was stopped at a four way stop sign controlled intersection on Laviolette Street at the northwest quadrant of the intersection facing a south direction. The OPP vehicle turned right to travel westbound on Raymond Street to the scene of the motor vehicle collision, a total distance of about 300 metres west of the intersection.
The OPP vehicle was stopped at the intersection from 9:11:47 p.m. to 9:12:14 p.m. The GPS coordinates were 45.5434 (Lat) and -75.2941 (Long). The total time the police vehicle was stopped at the intersection before turning right was about 27 seconds. The speed of the police vehicle during this 27-second time interval was 0 km/h.
Figure 2 - This image is from Google Earth Pro and has been edited to depict the OPP vehicle at the intersection stopped prior to turning right to travel westbound on Raymond Street.
The OPP vehicle was westbound on Raymond Street. The GPS coordinates at points indicate the vehicle was travelling at 76 km/h.
Figure 3 - This image is from Google Earth Pro and has been edited to depict the OPP vehicle about 220 metres west of the intersection just prior to the right s-curve in the roadway.
The OPP vehicle was westbound on Raymond Street and entered a slight S-curve to the right, then left to its final rest at the location of the single motor vehicle collision. The time stamp for this location is 9:12:40 p.m.
Figure 4 - This image is from Google Earth Pro and has been edited to depict OPP vehicle stopped at the scene of the single motor vehicle collision.
In the analysis of the travelled route on Raymond Street the roadway is paved asphalt with no lane markings. There are no posted speed limit signs and, as per the HTA, the maximum speed limit was 50 km/h.
The total distance travelled by the OPP vehicle was about 300 metres and the maximum speed attained was 76 km/h. The total time taken to travel this distance from the intersection of Raymond Street and Laviolette Street to the collision scene was about 26 seconds. The average velocity for this travelled distance was about 11.5 m/sec. The average speed for this time interval of 26 seconds based on the average velocity of 11.5 m/sec was about 41.3 km/h.
Police Communications RecordingsThe audio commenced on October 3, 2020 at 9:13:31 p.m. The OPP dispatcher called the Provincial Communications Centre and spoke with a police sergeant. The dispatcher told the sergeant they just had a pursuit or fail to stop for police.
The sergeant was contacted by the SO. The SO indicated that he and the WO were going northbound from a stop sign and saw a motorcycle in front of them. The SO let the motorcycle turn to go westbound on Raymond Street in front of them but the driver, the Complainant, had trouble shifting the gears. The SO followed the motorcycle for a couple of stop signs and they activated the emergency lighting, after which the motorcycle accelerated. After the next stop sign, the Complainant lost control of the motorcycle in the curve travelling about 30 km/h. The SO believed the fastest the Complainant was travelling was about 65 km/h. He indicated that the Complainant might have a sore shoulder and was going to the hospital. The sergeant told the SO he had initiated the report and also said the Complainant needed more practice on the bike, before he took off from the police again.
The sergeant then took a phone call from another officer, who asked if the Complainant was going to the hospital. The sergeant advised he found out about it after it all happened and he did not know what the officer was thinking - rule number one, do not pursue motorcycles. The sergeant told him the Complainant looked like he was going to pull over at the next stop sign, then accelerated and lost control in a curve. The SO said he gunned it to tell which way he was going after the curve. The Complainant might have a dislocated shoulder.
An officer called the sergeant from the hospital and indicated that the Complainant had a broken left collarbone.
An inspector called the sergeant to indicate that the SIU had invoked its mandate and was attending.
The following is a summary of the audio recording on October 3, 2020, starting at 9:18:38 p.m., involving an OPP dispatcher, an ambulance dispatcher, and OPP Communications.
The OPP dispatcher requested an ambulance attend for a motor vehicle collision on Raymond Street near Heritage Drive in Rockland. There were OPP officers at the collision scene.
The OPP dispatcher called a tow company to attend Raymond Street and Heritage Drive to pick up a motorcycle. The tow company advised they would be about 15 minutes.
A police officer, believed to be the SO, called into the dispatcher asking for an estimated time of arrival for the ambulance. The OPP officer told the dispatcher they went to stop a motorcycle driver because he did not know how to stay in the lanes and had trouble shifting so they decided to pull him over and check on him. They put the emergency lighting on, and the motorcycle driver accelerated and crashed. The driver lost it and hit the curb. He was only going about 30 km/h and had a sore shoulder. The driver said it was stupid.
The ambulance arrived at the collision scene. The SO told the dispatcher the Complainant was having a panic attack and had a sore shoulder from landing on it.
The dispatcher called the WO and told the police officers to go back to the scene and hold it as requested by the communications sergeant.
On October 3, 2020, at 9:24:02 p.m., the ambulance dispatcher called the OPP dispatcher to see if there were OPP officers on scene on Raymond Street. The ambulance dispatcher wanted to make sure the fire department had been called and were aware of the incident.
The ambulance crew arrived but at the wrong address and the ambulance was corrected to attend the correct cross street with Raymond Street. The OPP dispatcher told the ambulance dispatcher the fire department was not required to attend.
On October 3, 2020, at 9:12:45 p.m., either the SO or the WO requested an ambulance. Their location was Raymond Street and Heritage Drive in Rockland. They tried to stop a motorcycle that was having difficulty. The driver fled about 200 metres and crashed. The driver had a lower shoulder injury and the reason for flight was no motorcycle licence. The police officer requested a tow truck attend for the motorcycle. The OPP dispatcher indicated the ambulance was en route.
Materials obtained from Police ServiceUpon request, the SIU obtained and reviewed the following materials and documents from the OPP Rockland Detachment (Russell County):
- General Report;
- GPS Data;
- Notes of the WO; and
- OPP Occurrence Report and Summary.
Materials obtained from Other SourcesUpon request, the SIU obtained and reviewed the following documents from the Prescott & Russell EMS:
- Ambulance Call Reports.
The Complainant turned onto westbound Raymond Street and noticed the cruiser had turned as well and was now behind him. As the Complainant was not licenced to operate a motorcycle, he panicked and accelerated away from the cruiser. The Complainant had travelled several hundred metres when he started to decelerate, struck the northside curb and fell off the motorcycle, landing on his left shoulder and fracturing his clavicle in the process.
The SO brought the cruiser to a stop behind the Complainant and he and the WO exited to render assistance. The Complainant was arrested but then released into the custody of attending paramedics and taken to hospital.
Section 320.13, Criminal Code – Dangerous operation causing bodily harm
Analysis and Director's Decision
The offence that arises for consideration is dangerous driving causing bodily harm contrary to section 320.13(2) of the Criminal Code. The offence is premised, 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. In the instant case, the issue is whether there was any want of care on the part of the SO that caused or contributed to the Complainant’s injury and was sufficiently egregious to attract criminal sanction. In my view, there was not.
The SO and WO were on patrol in the lawful performance of their duties when they came across the Complainant on his motorcycle. I accept the WO’s evidence that they decided to stop the Complainant after they had seen him having trouble operating his motorcycle as he turned onto Raymond Street. In the circumstances, the officers were within their rights in seeking to investigate the Complainant to ensure he was a competent driver and that his motorcycle was in safe working order.
Regrettably, instead of stopping for the police when he saw the cruiser’s emergency lights come on, the Complainant, knowing that he was unlicenced, accelerated in a short-lived effort to get away. He quickly slowed to stop for the police, lost control of the motorcycle and fell to the ground. By all accounts, the pursuit, such as it was, travelled some 300 metres in no more than about 26 seconds. During that brief interval, both vehicles travelled at moderate average speeds, there was no indication of any third-parties in the vicinity having been placed at risk, and the SO remained well-back of the motorcycle.
On the aforementioned-record, I am unable to reasonably conclude that the SO transgressed the limits of care prescribed by the criminal law. Whether he ought to have discontinued the pursuit some time in advance of the collision given the inherent risks associated with chasing a motorcycle, the brevity and nature of the pursuit rendered any such indiscretion, if it was such, something less than a marked deviation from a reasonable level of care.
Date: March 15, 2021
Electronically approved by
Special Investigations Unit
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.