SIU Director’s Report - Case # 20-PVI-072
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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 the injury that a 23-year-old man (“Complainant #1”) and the injuries that a 24-year-old woman (“Complainant #2”) suffered.
Notification of the SIUOn April 4, 2020, at 11:51 a.m., the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) reported a vehicular collision resulting in injuries to an unidentified male driver and female passenger. The OPP reported that at approximately 10:00 a.m., a police officer observed two vehicles racing on Highway 401 near Leslie Street. The police officer followed the vehicles until one exited onto Keele Street.  The police officer followed the vehicle and observed a collision at the intersection of Keele Street and Sheppard Avenue West, involving the racing vehicle and a Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) bus.
The involved police officer indicated he was a distance from the collision and stopped at the time. He then proceeded to the scene and administered first aid to the male and female occupants of the vehicle, who had been ejected.
Both occupants were taken to Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre (SHSC) where they were diagnosed with serious but not life-threatening injuries.
Toronto Police Service (TPS) officers were at the collision scene with collision reconstructionists awaiting the SIU response. The involved OPP cruiser was still at the scene.
The OPP further advised that a gun was seized from the involved vehicle.
The TeamNumber of SIU Investigators assigned: 4
Number of SIU Forensic Investigators assigned: 2
ComplainantsComplainant #1: 23-year-old male interviewed
Complainant #2: 24-year-old female interviewed
Civilian WitnessesCW #1 Interviewed
CW #2 Interviewed
CW #3 Interviewed
CW #4 Interviewed
CW #5 Interviewed
Witness OfficersWO #1 Interviewed
WO #2 Interviewed
Subject OfficersSO Interviewed and notes reviewed
The SceneThis collision occurred in the intersection of Keele Street at Sheppard Avenue West in Toronto.
SIU scene investigation and collision reconstruction confirmed a Hyundai Sonata was northbound on Keele Street when it collided into the left side of a TTC bus that was westbound on Sheppard Avenue West.
The collision occurred in daylight conditions at about 9:17 a.m. on April 4, 2020. Traffic was light at the time, the roads were dry, clear, in good condition and good repair. The traffic control signaling system at the intersection was functioning properly at the time of the collision and investigation.
As per information provided at the time of notification, a handgun was observed between the driver and front passenger seats of the Sonata. A white sock containing ammunition was also found in the car.
OPP Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) DataGPS data from the cruiser the SO was driving revealed he accessed Highway 401 from Kennedy Road in Scarborough and drove west at around 122 km/h until he was west of the Highway 404/Don Valley Parkway underpass. Around there he accelerated, reaching 187 km/h at around 9:10:45 a.m., before briefly slowing. He then accelerated again, maintaining speed over 190 km/h and reaching speeds in excess of 200 km/h at multiple points. At 9:12:07 a.m., the cruiser was recorded at 213 km/h, west of Yonge Street.
After exiting the highway at Bathurst Street, the SO drove west on Wilson Avenue at near the posted speed limit until a point near Wilson Heights Boulevard. Around there, he sped to over 100 km/h, reaching 132 km/h before slowing and even stopping at some intersections, likely for red lights at traffic signal-controlled intersections. The cruiser was recorded at 108 and 109 km/h in the area of Mount Sinai Cemetery’s main gate.
On Keele Street, just north of the intersection at Wilson Avenue, the cruiser was recorded at 101 and 106 km/h in the area of Victory Avenue. From there, it continued north in excess of 100 km/h, driving at 127 km/h in the area of Wandle Avenue.
The cruiser then slowed and came to a stop at 9:17:07 a.m. near the intersection at Whitburn Crescent. There it remained stopped before it was next recorded driving at 35 km/h five seconds later, accelerating to 137 and 142 km/h before slowing to a stop at 9:17:35 a.m. at a point about 350 metres south of Sheppard Avenue West. It remained stopped for about ten seconds before accelerating again and arriving at the intersection at 9:18:07 a.m.
WO #1’s cruiser was on Keele Street, immediately north of Wilson Avenue, when it started accelerating, reaching 122 km/h and driving consistently over 110 km/h before slowing north of Tavistock Road at 9:17:04 a.m. It then slowed to 35 km/h near the intersection at Whitburn Crescent before accelerating again to 121 km/h. The cruiser then slowed to 6 km/h at 9:17:46 a.m., maintaining that speed for about ten seconds before accelerating again, arriving at Sheppard Avenue West, about 350 metres to the north, at 9:18:04 a.m. at 68 km/h.
Collision InvestigationData downloaded from the 2013 Hyundai Sonata revealed the car was driving at 138 km/h before it started braking 4 seconds before impact. The car slowed to 55 km/h at impact with the bus.
The data indicated the car travelled 161.19 metres in the final five seconds before impact. This distance positioned the car at a point 55 metres north of Wycombe Road.
Video/Audio/Photographic EvidenceThe SIU canvassed the area for any video or audio recordings, and photographic evidence, and was able to locate the following:
• COMPASS Video;
• Closed-circuit Television (CCTV) Video Recordings; and
• A TTC Bus’s Video Recordings.
COMPASS VideoNumerous Highway 401 COMPASS cameras from Highway 404 to the east and Bathurst Street to the west captured a dark car traveling much faster than other vehicles on the highway, followed by an OPP cruiser. The cruiser’s emergency lighting was not activated in any recording.
At 9:10:03 a.m., a camera west of Highway 404 captured a dark-coloured car and a light-coloured car entering view in the collector lanes driving faster than other vehicles. A police car was driving about four seconds behind them at about the same speed as other vehicles on the road.
A camera in the area of Leslie Street captured a grey car entering view in the left lane of the collectors at 9:10:43 a.m. About eight seconds later, a cruiser followed and drove along the right side of a white car before overtaking it.
At 9:11:02 a.m., a camera east of Bayview Avenue captured a grey car enter view and transition from the collector lanes to the express lanes. The cruiser entered view eight seconds later.
From 9:11:13 to 9:11:21 a.m., a grey car sped across the field of view, passing vehicles from a far-right lane. The cruiser was about six seconds behind in the same lane.
At 9:12:00 a.m., a camera at Yonge Street recorded a grey car speeding across the field of view, driving in the far-right lane with the cruiser about five seconds behind.
Around Avenue Road, a dark car was recorded transferring to the collector lanes at 9:12:13 a.m., driving much faster than other vehicles on road. About five seconds later, an OPP cruiser followed with no emergency lighting activated and traveling much faster than other vehicles.
At 9:12:57 a.m., a camera in the area of Bathurst Street captured a dark car exiting at Bathurst Street while traveling faster than other vehicles on the road. The cruiser followed at similar speed, about four seconds later.
CCTV Video RecordingsThe Main Gate camera at Mount Sinai Cemetery (986 Wilson Avenue), situated on the north side of Wilson Avenue about 590 metres east of Keele Street, captured a grey sedan traveling west at a speed much faster than other vehicles on the road at 9:15:48 a.m. Two civilian vehicles then drove by in the same direction before a fully marked OPP cruiser with no emergency lighting activated travelled in the same direction at 9:15:57 a.m., about nine seconds after the grey sedan.
Two security cameras at a Pioneer gas station (2881 Keele Street), situated at the northeast corner of Keele Street and Keelegate Drive, captured video of a grey Hyundai Sonata traveling north on Keele Street at a speed far in excess of other vehicles. At about 9:19:10 a.m., a south facing camera recorded the northbound car moving left to the left turning lane as it approached the intersection at Calvington Drive. The car then drove between a vehicle traveling ahead of it in the left lane and a vehicle traveling south in the left lane on southbound Keele Street.
Another camera at the gas station captured the grey Hyundai moving right, back to the left lane on northbound Keele Street while in the intersection at Calvington Drive.
About 13 seconds later, a fully marked OPP Dodge Charger cruiser with no emergency lighting activated travelled the same direction. About ten seconds after the cruiser, another fully marked OPP Ford Taurus cruiser with no emergency lighting activated travelled the same direction.
The TTC Bus’s Video RecordingsVideo recording from one interior-mounted camera in the bus involved in the collision captured the collision. The data stamp details noted the collision occurred at 9:17:02 a.m. while the bus was traveling 30 mph (48 km/h) when Camera 3 captured the Sonata colliding into the left side of the bus in the area of the front wheels.
The bus then redirected to the right and continued about 15 seconds before coming to rest. CW #1 exited the bus about 70 seconds later, at 9:18:12 a.m.
OPP Communications RecordingsAt 9:12:12 a.m., the SO reported over the radio he was on Highway 401 “westbound collectors passing Avenue” and asked if anyone was ahead to assist as “I have a car that’s high miling.” He then said, “He’s exiting at Bathurst. I haven’t lit him up yet but he’s using shoulders to pass, swerving all over, speeds above 210.”
When asked if he was following the car, the SO confirmed he was. He described the car and added it was turning west onto Wilson Avenue and “he just ran another red. I’m approximately three, four hundred metres back. I can’t get anywhere close to this guy but I’m still observing.”
He then reported, “Now he’s going wrong way of traffic,” and asked the dispatcher to advise TPS.
After losing sight of the Sonata in the area of Dufferin Street, where it disobeyed another red traffic control signal, the SO reported the car had been driving “…in and out of traffic, shoulders, two hundred ten, two twenty, running reds, wrong way vehicle, everything.”
After reporting people waved him toward the west, indicating the direction of travel, the SO reported he saw the Sonata ahead as it approached Keele Street, disobeying a red traffic signal at Klassic Car Wash.  He then reported the car ran another red light on Keele Street.
Before reporting the car disobeyed yet another red light on Keele Street, the SO estimated it was traveling 120 to 150 km/h. After he reported it disobeyed yet another traffic control signal about three blocks ahead of him, about 170 seconds after the initial transmission, WO #2 directed the SO, “Shut it down. Stop following.”
After the SO reported he was complying and pulling over, WO #1 reported he was with the SO and was doing the same. Immediately on completion of that transmission, about 180 seconds after the initial transmission, the SO reported, “Orillia standby. Keele northbound at Sheppard. Looks like there’s a MVC that’s up ahead. Smoke’s uh, yea I have the vehicle. So looks like it wrecked out all by itself. Lots of pedestrians around.”
Prior to the collision, the SO said he did not get close enough to note the licence plate’s number. He provided no information about the occupants and reported no information on the roads or traffic conditions. The only mention of pedestrian traffic was post-collision when he recorded, “Lots of pedestrians around.”
Materials obtained from Police ServiceUpon request, the SIU obtained and reviewed the following materials and documents from the OPP Toronto Detachment (Highway Safety Division) and the TPS:
• 04 April 2020 Day Shift Toronto - Whitby Detachment Logon - A Platoon;
• Computer-Assisted Dispatch (CAD Event Details;
• Notes-both WOs and other police officers;
• Notes-the SO;
• OPP Civilian Witness Statement;
• Two versions of OPP-Mobile for Public Safety Data-April 4, 2020;
• TPS-CAD Event Details;
• TPS-Collision Report;
• TPS-General Occurrence (GO) 2020 (Traffic Services);
• TPS-GO 2020-Div-SIU;
• TPS-GO Event Data Recorder Report–2013 grey Hyundai Sonata; and
• TPS-Reconstruction Measurements–Keele / Sheppard.
The other vehicle, a Hyundai Sonata being operated by Complainant #1 with Complainant #2 as the front seat passenger, continued at speed westbound ahead of the officer. It passed vehicles on the highway’s shoulder and ultimately exited on the Bathurst Street off-ramp.
Intending to stop the vehicle for traffic infractions, the SO pursued the Sonata. He did so at very high speed himself, but was not able to close the gap beyond a few hundred metres in the area of the Bathurst Street exit. The SO watched as the Sonata made a left turn through a red light at the off-ramp’s intersection with Wilson Avenue and then followed suit.
The SO continued west along Wilson Avenue, at times losing sight of the Sonata. He watched as the vehicle disregarded multiple red lights and swerved around vehicles in the eastbound lanes of traffic. Realizing that he was not going to catch up to the Sonata, the SO radioed seeking assistance from police officers ahead of the chase.
WO #1 was at the OPP Toronto Detachment in the area of Keele Street and Wilson Avenue when he heard the call and replied that he would respond. He proceeded north on Keele Street in his cruiser and observed the SO making a right hand turn from Wilson Avenue onto Keele Street to travel north. WO #1 came to a stop against the red light on Wilson Avenue and then continued through the intersection, assuming a position behind the SO’s cruiser.
Not long after each officer stopped at the Victory Drive intersection on a red light and then travelled through it, they were directed to immediately pull over by a police officer who had been monitoring the pursuit – WO #2. Just north of the Diana Drive intersection, the SO and WO #2 did so, just about bringing their vehicles to a full stop before seeing smoke ahead and traveling north to investigate.
The smoke was coming from the Hyundai Sonata. It had continued at speed on Keele Street, running red lights and traveling in the opposing lanes of traffic. At the roadway’s intersection with Sheppard Avenue West, Complainant #1 drove through a red light and struck the front left area of a bus traveling west.
Arriving at the intersection, the SO and WO #1 checked on the condition of the bus driver, who was alone and uninjured in his vehicle, and the occupants of the Sonata, who had been ejected. The collision caused the bus’s brakes to malfunction, and it eventually came to rest about 150 metres west of the point of impact in the intersection.
Complainant #1 and Complainant #2 were taken to hospital where the former was diagnosed with a fractured femur, the latter, various head and rib fractures.
Sections 1-3, Ontario Regulation 266/10, Ontario Police Services Act -- Suspect Apprehension Pursuits
(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.
(a) the police force of the officer established under subsection 6 (1), if the officer is a member of an Ontario police force as defined in the Interprovincial Policing Act, 2009;(b) a police force whose local commander was notified of the appointment of the officer under subsection 6 (1) of the Interprovincial Policing Act, 2009, if the officer was appointed under Part II of that Act; or(c) the local police force of the local commander who appointed the officer under subsection 15 (1) of the Interprovincial Policing Act, 2009, if the officer was appointed under Part III of that Act.
Section 128(13), Highway Traffic Act – Police vehicles and speeding
(b) a police department vehicle being used in the lawful performance of a police officer’s duties.
Section 320.13, Criminal Code – Dangerous operation of motor vehicles, vessels and aircraft
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. As an offence of penal negligence, not any departure from the standard of reasonable care will suffice to ground liability. What is required, in part, is a marked deviation from a reasonable level of care in the circumstances.
There are aspects of the SO’s conduct that are open to legitimate scrutiny. Chief among these was his speed. By his own admission, as confirmed by the GPS data associated with his cruiser, the SO accelerated to speeds upwards of 200 km/h and was consistently over 190 km/h on Highway 401 as he sped westward attempting to catch up with the Sonata. While west on Wilson Avenue, the SO travelled in and around the speed limit until he arrived in the area of Wilson Heights Boulevard, whereupon his velocity increased significantly, topping out at about 132 km/h. Finally, while north on Keele Street, the SO drove regularly over 120 km/h, reaching a top speed of 142 km/h. In my view, the speed at which the SO was driving through lengthy portions of his engagement with the Sonata was inherently dangerous.
Adding to the danger was the fact that the SO intentionally decided to avoid using his emergency lights and siren except on several occasions as he was making his way through intersections. The officer explained that it was his practice to not activate his emergency equipment in these circumstances as, in his experience, doing so regularly prompted the drivers of the speeding vehicles to increase their speed as they tried to get away. When that happens, according to the SO, he is compelled to terminate the pursuit immediately, thereby frustrating his law enforcement efforts.
The SO misconceives the nature of his duty and the regulation governing police pursuits in the province – O Reg 266/10. Whether an officer activates emergency equipment in an effort to pull someone over is a factor in assessing whether a pursuit within the terms of the regulation has occurred, but it is not necessarily a decisive one. In my view, the fact that the SO was speeding as fast as he was after the Sonata, for as long as he was, clearly suggests he was in pursuit. Moreover, the fact that the driver of a vehicle accelerates away after being signaled to pull over does not automatically mean that the officer is obliged to terminate the pursuit. That determination is made on a rolling basis as the officer considers the balance of public safety considerations. At times, this assessment will justify the continuation of a pursuit; at other times, it will dictate that the pursuit be discontinued. Finally, the SO is simply wrong to suggest that he was free to speed in the fashion he did because, in his view, he was not captured by the edicts of O Reg 266/10. Public safety must at all times be at the forefront of an officer’s objectives. If the SO’s speed was unsafe, then it was unsafe regardless of whether he was in a pursuit or not.
In my view, the SO ought to have used his emergency lights and siren far more than he did as he pursued the Sonata. While I accept that there will be times when officers will reasonably choose to avoid using their emergency equipment for one reason or another as they travel at speed, this does not seem to be one of those occasions. Complainant #1 was already traveling recklessly and at great speed when the SO first noticed the Sonata. It is difficult to believe that the use by the officer of his lights and siren would have markedly aggravated Complainant #1’s dangerous driving. On the contrary, it seems to me that the greater concern in the circumstances would have been to alert motorists and pedestrians in the vicinity of the SO’s cruiser, giving them more time to react to the speed at which he was approaching.
On the other side of the ledger, the risks created by the SO’s speed and non-use of his emergency equipment are mitigated to a degree by several considerations. It should be noted, for example, that the SO had reasonable cause to initiate a pursuit of the Sonata for speeding under O Reg 266/10. Not only was the Complainant in apparent violation of the Highway Traffic Act, he was conceivably also committing the criminal offence of dangerous driving. That being the case, the SO was exempt from the speeding limitations under section 128(13) of the Highway Traffic Act. This is not to suggest that the SO had free rein to speed as he wished without regard to public safety, but simply to say that the officer’s conduct was not entirely without justification.
The prevailing environmental conditions were also favourable. The roadways were dry and in good repair, and the weather was clear. Moreover, there was little traffic along the pursuit route given the COVID-19 control measures that were in effect. If the SO’s speed and failure to use his cruiser’s emergency equipment were ill-advised, they were less so in context. In this regard, it bears noting that there is no evidence that any third parties were ever actually endangered by the manner in which the SO was driving.
Nor is there any affirmative evidence that the SO blatantly disregarded traffic control signs and signals as he chased after the Sonata. In fact, the evidence that does exist on this front via the GPS data and the statements of the SO and WO #1 indicates that the SO slowed, if not stopped, ahead of several red lights before proceeding safely through the intersections.
Finally, it is clear that the SO maintained a fair distance behind the Sonata through most of the pursuit, and had in fact terminated his engagement several hundred metres ahead of the Keele Street and Sheppard Avenue West intersection where the collision occurred. Thus, notwithstanding the officer’s speed, I am satisfied that the SO left the Complainant ample opportunity to slow and safely operate his vehicle had he been so inclined.
In the final analysis, while I accept that the SO operated his cruiser in an objectively dangerous fashion over a protracted distance and period of time (between 13 and 15 kilometres, and about seven minutes), I am unable to reasonably conclude that his manner of driving transgressed the limits of care prescribed by the criminal law. More specifically, weighed in the balance with the extenuating considerations outlined above, I am satisfied that the SO’s indiscretions fall short of constituting a marked departure from the level of care that a reasonable person would have observed. Accordingly, there is no basis for proceeding with charges in this case, and the file is closed.
Date: September 14, 2020
Electronically approved by
Special Investigations Unit
- 1) It was later determined that this exit occurred at Bathurst Street. [Back to text]
- 2) Referring to the Sonata disobeying the traffic control signal at James Finlay Way, west of Klassic car wash located at 1031 Wilson Avenue, on south side of Wilson Avenue and about 250 metres east of the intersection at Keele Street. [Back to text]
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.