SIU Director’s Report - Case # 21-OVI-029
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Mandate of the SIU
Under the SIU Act, the Director of the SIU must determine based on the evidence gathered in an investigation whether there are reasonable grounds to believe that a criminal offence was committed. If such grounds exist, the Director has the authority to lay a criminal charge against the official. Alternatively, in cases where no reasonable grounds exist, the Director cannot lay charges. Where no charges are laid, a report of the investigation is prepared and released publicly, except in the case of reports dealing with allegations of sexual assault, in which case the SIU Director may consult with the affected person and exercise a discretion to not publicly release the report having regard to the affected person’s privacy interests.
Special Investigations Unit Act, 2019Pursuant to section 34, certain information may not be included in this report. This information may include, but is not limited to, the following:
- The name of, and any information identifying, a subject official, witness official, civilian witness or affected person.
- Information that may result in the identity of a person who reported that they were sexually assaulted being revealed in connection with the sexual assault.
- Information that, in the opinion of the SIU Director, could lead to a risk of serious harm to a person.
- Information that discloses investigative techniques or procedures.
- Information, the release of which is prohibited or restricted by law.
- Information in which a person’s privacy interest in not having the information published clearly outweighs the public interest in having the information published.
Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy ActPursuant to section14 (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 that 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 (i.e., personal privacy), protected personal information is not included in this report. This information may include, but is not limited to, the following:
- The names of persons, including civilian witnesses, and subject and witness officials;
- 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, 2004Pursuant to this legislation, any information related to the personal health of identifiable individuals is not included.
Other proceedings, processes, and investigationsInformation may also have 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.
A person sustains a “serious injury” for purposes of the SIU’s jurisdiction if they: sustain an injury as a result of which they are admitted to hospital; suffer a fracture to the skull, or to a limb, rib or vertebra; suffer burns to a significant proportion of their body; lose any portion of their body; or, as a result of an injury, experience a loss of vision or hearing.
In addition, a “serious injury” means any other injury sustained by a person that is likely to interfere with the person’s health or comfort and is not transient or trifling in nature.
This report relates to the SIU’s investigation into the serious injuries a 44-year-old man (the “Complainant”) suffered during an interaction with police.
Notification of the SIUOn January 25, 2021, at 3:41 a.m., the Halton Regional Police Service (HRPS) notified the SIU of the Complainant’s injury.
According to HRPS, on January 24, 2021, at about 10:06 p.m., the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) attempted a traffic stop on the Queen Elizabeth Way (QEW) near Third Line, Oakville. The vehicle [now known to be operated by the Complainant] failed to stop and drove northbound on Bronte Road, after which HRPS police officers became involved. After some time, the vehicle drove west on Highway 5 [also known as Dundas Street] in Burlington, where HRPS police officers successfully laid down a spike belt. The vehicle operated by the Complainant continued westbound on Highway 5/Dundas Street toward Waterdown with HRPS police officers following it. The vehicle crashed into the ditch on Highway 5 west of Highway 6 in Waterdown. The Complainant was transported to the Hamilton General Hospital (HGH) where he was diagnosed with a broken nose and internal injuries.
The TeamDate and time team dispatched: January 25, 2021 at 0400 hours
Date and time SIU arrived on scene: January 25, 2021 at 0458 hours
Number of SIU Investigators assigned: 4
Number of SIU Forensic Investigators assigned: 1
Number of SIU Collision Reconstructionists assigned: 1
SIU investigators interviewed civilian and police witnesses, canvassed for additional witnesses and searched for and obtained Closed-circuit Television (CCTV) data in the area where the incident occurred, and more especially along the route of the suspect apprehension pursuit (SAP).
SIU investigators made digital photographs and a drawing of the scene, collected exhibits relevant to the incident and made video recordings of the route of the SAP once it was established through analyses of Automated Vehicle Locating (AVL) and Global Positioning System (GPS) data obtained during the investigation.
One SIU investigator having specialized training in collision reconstruction analyzed and reported on data obtained during the investigation.
Ontario Regulation 266/10 governing SAPs and the Highway Traffic Act were reviewed in context with the incident.
Affected Person (aka “Complainant”):44-year-old male interviewed, medical records obtained and reviewed
The Complainant was interviewed on February 17, 2021.
Subject Officials (SO)SO #1 Declined interview and to provide notes, as is the subject official’s legal right
SO #2 Declined interview and to provide notes, as is the subject official’s legal right
SO #3 Declined interview and to provide notes, as is the subject official’s legal right
SO #4 Declined interview and to provide notes, as is the subject official’s legal right
Witness Officials (WO)WO #1 Interviewed
WO #2 Interviewed
WO #3 Interviewed
WO #4 Interviewed
WO #5 Interviewed
WO #6 Interviewed
The witness officials were interviewed between January 30, 2021 and February 7, 2021.
Additionally, the notes from five other officials were received and reviewed.
Service Employee Witness (SEW)SEW Interviewed
The SEW was interviewed on February 4, 2021.
The Scene The scene where SO #2’s and the Complainant’s vehicles collided was the westbound lane of Highway 5 several hundred metres from its intersection with Highway 6, with both vehicles terminating their movement in front of 71 Highway 5, depicted in the map below as 71 ON-5, Dundas, ON L9H 7L6.
The collision scene was not well protected. There were HRPS officers present and they were preserving the area around the vehicles, but vehicle traffic on Highway 5 continued to pass by.
Figure 1 – Google Map of collision area.
The roadway at this location has a northeast/southwest direction bearing. It was straight and level with one lane of traffic in each direction. It was a rural location with sporadic homes and light industrial buildings. The road was in good repair, and the road markings were visible. There was no street lighting in the area. The speed limit was 60 km/h.
There were three vehicles on the north side of the roadway:
- A white Acura MDX SUV. It was in the northside ditch with the front end against a tree. It had heavy front-end damage and scrapes along the left side. The right front tire had shredded away from the rim.
- A HRPS Ford Explorer SUV operated by SO #3 with full police markings and emergency lights. This vehicle was resting partially over the shoulder with the right front corner against the right rear corner of the Acura. There was minor damage to the right front corner of the police vehicle and there was a transfer of fresh white paint on the left front corner.
- A HRPS Ford Explorer SUV operated by SO #2 with full police markings and emergency lights. This vehicle was in the parking lot at 71 Highway 5, facing northwest. It had damage to the front end and right side.
Figure 2 – Photograph of the passenger sides of the Acura MDX and SO #3’s HRPS Ford Explorer
Figure 3 – Photograph of the driver side of the Acura MDX
Figure 4 – Photograph of the left front corner of the HRPS Ford Explorer driven by SO #2
Figure 5 – Photograph of the right side of the HRPS Ford Explorer driven by SO #2
There were tire marks on the roadway leading to the positions of the vehicles. There was also an intermittent scrape mark on the road prior to the tire marks.
There was substantial collision damage to the front end of the Acura MDX as it had collided with a tree. There was further collision damage to the passenger side rear corner as it was in contact with an HRPS vehicle before the terminal collision. Also, on the driver’s side of the Acura MDX, there was further collision damage indicating contact with another vehicle. The passenger side front tire had been torn off and it appeared that it had been shredded. Inside the vehicle on the driver’s seat was a baseball bat. The steering wheel airbag had been deployed and an area of staining suspected to be blood was present on the airbag material. The windshield had been damaged. Within the broken glass of the windshield were areas of hair embedded into the glass. Outside the vehicle in the immediate area of the driver’s door was an area of debris including broken auto parts, personal items suspected to be from inside the vehicle and an area of suspected bloodstaining.
Pursuit RouteHRPS police officers first observed the Complainant’s vehicle traveling northbound on Bronte Road. The Complainant’s vehicle travelled north on Bronte Road to Dundas Street where it went west to Appleby Line. At Appleby Line, the Complainant’s vehicle traveled north and south and eventually turned westbound onto Dundas Street. While westbound on Dundas Street, at a point between Northampton Boulevard and the Highway 407 overpass, a tire deflation device was deployed.
The Complainant, still operating his vehicle at a high rate of speed and still being pursued by at least one unmarked HRPS vehicle and several marked HRPS vehicles, continued west on Dundas Street. It left the city of Burlington, entered the city of Hamilton, and continued on Dundas Street through the village of Waterdown.
The pursuit continued through Waterdown on Dundas Street to the intersection of Dundas Street and Highway 6, where Dundas Street west of Highway 6 is known as Highway 5.
Several hundred metres west of the intersection, SO #2’s vehicle came into contact with the Acura’s driver’s side causing the Complainant to lose control of the Acura and leave the roadway. The Acura swerved northwest into a ditch where it struck a tree and came to rest.
The map below with the added hand-drawn line is provided to correlate with the description of the pursuit route as recorded by the SIU Forensic Investigator and one SIU investigator.
Figure 6 – Google Map depicting the pursuit route.
GPS DataThe following chart pertains to the locations and speeds of SO #2’s police vehicle. Speeds at intersections with traffic signals were not necessarily reported as the GPS did not always report data at the intersection. The colour of traffic signal displayed to the vehicle at the time it entered the intersection was not known.
HRPS Unit Operated by SO #2
SIU Reconstruction General Analysis and ConclusionGeneral Analysis
The condition and location of the driver’s seatbelt in the Acura MDX was consistent with it not being worn at the time of the collision. The ACM in the HRPS Unit driven by SO #2 indicated that the driver’s seatbelt was buckled at the time of the collision.
The ICCS of the HRPS Unit driven by WO #3 indicates that the Complainant’s vehicle travelled westbound on Dundas Street from Appleby Line in Burlington, through Waterdown towards the collision scene on Highway 5, as it is known west of Highway 6.
GPS data indicated that near Walkers Line, SO #3 was operating a 2019 HRPS Ford Explorer, SO #4 was operating a 2018 HRPS Ford Explorer with WO #2 as passenger, there were three additional HRPS vehicles driven by other officers, and SO #1 was operating 2018 Ford Explorer HRPS Unit, following behind WO #3, all with no emergency equipment activated. WO #6, operating an unmarked black Ford Expedition, attended later.
According to radio communication on the ICCS, a spike belt had previously been deployed on the Acura.
The ICCS indicated that just west of Hollybush Drive in Waterdown, several marked HRPS police vehicles attempted to surround the Complainant’s vehicle. According to the ICCS, near Clappison Avenue, SO #4’s police vehicle was in front of the Complainant’s vehicle as both were traveling westbound in the eastbound lanes. The Complainant’s vehicle accelerated and the right front corner appeared to contact the left rear corner of SO #4’s police vehicle. The Complainant accelerated westbound and SO #4 stopped momentarily. This collision was consistent with the white paint transfer on the left rear bumper of SO #4’s vehicle.
The white paint transfer on the left front bumper of SO #3’s police vehicle is similar in relation to the paint on the Acura. The area where the Acura was struck by this portion of the cruiser is not known as there was damage to the right rear and right front of the Acura from other impacts. There was no damage to the two right doors of the Acura. The location where the event took place is thought to be at or just west of Highway 6, out of view of the ICCS of WO #3’s vehicle. According to GPS data, SO #3’s vehicle remained in the westbound lanes of Dundas Street throughout this event.
The intermittent scrape marks on the north side of the westbound lane of Highway 5 changing to a wheel mark in the gravel, dirt and grass leading towards the Acura with the tire being detached from the right front wheel are consistent with the right front wheel rim causing the scrape marks. These marks followed a steady westbound path until 24.9 metres east of the east edge of the east driveway of 71 Highway 5, then they followed a steady northwest path to the right front wheel of the Acura. The fresh sideswipe damage and circular black material transfer to the left side of the Acura and the fresh sideswipe and circular black material transfer to the right side of SO #2’s vehicle is consistent with the right side of SO #2’s vehicle coming into contact with the left side of the Acura as they were both moving. According to the ICCS of WO #3’s vehicle, the involved HRPS Units were told by an officer to, “Take care of him now, take him out.” According to the GPS data, SO #2’s vehicle was accelerated from the passing westbound lane of Regional Road 5 to the centre of the two-lane portion of Regional Road 5 up to 138 km/h. This was 190 metres east of the damaged bollard (which activated the ACM) and it is the author’s contention that this would bring it to the left side of the Acura as the intermittent scrape marks clearly indicate that the Acura was westbound completely in the westbound lane. According to the change of scrape mark directionality and ACM data, at a point 24.9 metres east of the east driveway of 71 Regional Road 5, SO #2’s vehicle was slowed to about 110 km/h and turned to the right into the Acura. The ACM data indicate significant steering input to the right 2.6 to 3.0 seconds prior to impact with the bollard at the same location where the intermittent scrape marks changed to a northwest direction. A tire mark on the south side of the wheel mark also followed a path to the Acura.
The gouge in the grassed ditch which is furthest to the north lined up with the tree, and the Acura tire/wheel marks. This is consistent with the front of the Acura furrowing into the ditch after leaving the road. The damage in the shape of a tree on the right front of the Acura as well as the resting proximity of the Acura to the tree are consistent with the right front corner of the Acura striking the southeast side of the tree. The Acura then rotated clockwise coming to rest facing north. The hair in the windshield is consistent with the Complainant being thrust forward into the windshield after the deployment of the frontal airbag.
The remaining four tire marks followed a westerly path towards SO #2’s vehicle and originated from that vehicle. The damage to the left front fender and left front axle of SO #2’s vehicle was similar in height to the damage on the gas line bollard which was bent to the southwest. The bollard would have activated the ACM. The two gouges in the grassed ditch further to the south lined up with the tire marks leading to SO #2’s vehicle. These were made when the front end of SO #2’s vehicle furrowed into the grassed ditch after leaving the road. The 0.5 metre-long gouge in the parking lot pavement was caused by some portion of the broken axle/undercarriage of SO #2’s vehicle.
The damage to the right front corner of SO #3’s vehicle was still in contact with the right rear of the Acura at the scene.
On January 24, 2021, WO #3, operating an unmarked black HRPS Dodge Ram pickup truck, followed the Complainant’s vehicle southbound on Appleby Line, then westbound on Dundas Street in Burlington, Ontario. Near Walkers Line, WO #3 was followed by SO #2, SO #3, SO #4 with WO #2 as a passenger, three other officers driving HRPS vehicles, and SO #1, as they all followed the Acura westbound on Dundas Street to Waterdown with no emergency equipment activated.
The Complainant was not wearing his seatbelt, having previously inserted a ‘blank’ in its buckle to defeat the seatbelt alarm. SO #2 was wearing his seatbelt and it is unknown if the other police officers and police cadet were wearing theirs.
At some point earlier to SO #2’s involvement, a tire deflation device had been deployed and the Acura was being driven with a flat right front tire.
Along Dundas Street, the cruisers came to stops or rolling stops at all intersections controlled by red traffic signals. It was clear with dry roads and traffic volume was low.
Near McDonald Court in Waterdown, 1.4 kilometres east of Highway 6, the involved vehicles moved into position around the Acura. It was then that their emergency lighting was activated. Near Hollybush Drive, 1.0 kilometre east of Highway 6, SO #4 accelerated his vehicle, positioning his cruiser in front of the Acura, both traveling westbound in the eastbound lanes. All involved vehicles unsuccessfully attempted to box the Acura in.
Near Clappison Avenue, 802 metres east of Highway 6, the Acura was accelerated, and its right front corner impacted the left rear corner of SO #4’s vehicle. SO #4 was brought to a momentary stop as the Acura sped westbound. The remaining cruisers with emergency lighting active pursued the Acura.
At some point before the final collision scene it is believed that the left front corner of SO #3’s vehicle came into a minor collision with the Acura.
SO #2’s vehicle was accelerated to 138 km/h and brought to the left side abreast with the Acura, then slowed to about 110 km/h. SO #2’s cruiser and the Acura contacted each other, and the cruiser followed the Acura into the north ditch while SO #2 turned hard to the left to avoid going into the ditch. On the right side of the front, the Acura impacted the southeast side of a tree. The Acura rotated clockwise and came to rest facing north against the tree.
SO #2’s vehicle continued northwest and the left front fender and wheel struck a gas line bollard activating the ACM before coming to rest facing west in the front parking lot of 71 Highway 5, as Dundas Street is known west of Highway 6.
SO #3 drove his vehicle northwest towards the stopped Acura and the right front corner of his cruiser impacted the right rear corner of the Acura in a minor collision before his vehicle came to rest facing northwest.
The Complainant was thrust forward into the windshield after the airbag deployed. He received serious injury from the collision.
Video/Audio/Photographic Evidence 
Police Communications Audio Recordings – Key Elements of Event ChronologyThe following were transmissions of importance.
00:25 (minutes into recording)
An officer came on the air and provided the following information.
The vehicle (now known to be a white Acura MDX SUV) was northbound on Bronte Road. W1 could not confirm the plate number.
The Acura continued northbound on Bronte Road with its lights on. It passed police headquarters and the paramedic station on Bronte Road. Its speed was approximately 90 km/h.
The Acura approached Upper Middle Road and weaved in and out of the northbound lanes. At Dundas Street, it turned westbound. The traffic lights at Dundas Street were red.
The dispatcher asked for road conditions and speeds.
The officer stated the roads were dry and speed was approximately 90 km/h. He was strategically following.
The Acura continued westbound on Dundas Street, and passed Tremaine Road and Sutton Drive. At Appleby Line, the Acura went southbound against the red light.
The officer replied they were light and bare. He was now 100 metres back of the Acura.
SO #1 directed that the vehicle was not to be pursued if it was only wanted for speeding.
The officer stated the Acura completed a U-turn on Appleby Line, and was now northbound on Appleby Line. The officer still could not confirm the plate number.
The officer stated negative. The sergeant indicated that if the Acura could still be seen going through red lights, to increase the distance if the officer was following.
Dispatcher requested the full description of the vehicle that was being followed. An officer stated it was a white Acura MDX, dirty with tinted windows. The Acura had plate covers.
WO #4 and WO #5 stated they were 150 metres back, and doing 120 km/h. The Acura was weaving all over the road.
The Acura then went through Walkers Line on a green light.
Dispatcher acknowledged 10-4.
The Acura just passed Northampton.
Dispatcher acknowledged 10-4.
WO #3 stated the Acura just passed the Highway 407 overpass westbound ramp. It was now westbound on Dundas Street.
Further, he smelled the strong odour of burning rubber.
Two units stated they were right behind WO #3.
Dispatcher acknowledged 10-4.
Unknown unit indicated that the pursuit was to be called off if it entered into Hamilton. WO #3 stated 10-4. WO #3 noted that “we’re 80-90 metres behind. No traffic. Roads bare and dry.”
Dispatcher acknowledged 10-4.
WO #3 stated the Acura had slowed to 80 km/h and was just entering Hamilton. He asked whether the sergeant wished the officers to continue or stop there.
An officer stated he was just learning the Acura ran over a stop stick, and asked whether that was correct?
WO #3 stated that was correct.
The officer replied if that was so, then to follow at a distance and wait for the Acura to come to a stop. He asked whether “K9” was tracking.
K9 stated he was on Dundas Street trying to catch up.
WO #3 stated he was still westbound trying to catch up. His speed was about 80 km/h. WO #3 was now approximately 75 metres behind the Acura.
Dispatcher acknowledged 10-4. Dispatcher asked about occupants in the Acura.
WO #3 stated he was unsure and that he was too far behind. He noted that no licence plates had been obtained.
WO #3 updated that he was just passing Burke Street and speeds continued at 75 to 80 km/h.
Dispatcher acknowledged 10-4.
The Acura just cut off another vehicle and continued westbound passing Main Street.
The Acura now passed Hamilton Street. Its speed was still at 80 km/h. WO #3 was now approximately one hundred metres back. The roads were clear and dry.
Dispatcher acknowledged 10-4.
WO #3 updated that the Acura continued to weave in its lanes.
Dispatcher acknowledged 10-4.
WO #3 stated the Acura was now on its rim.
An officer stated he was going to move up to the front.
Dispatcher acknowledged 10-4.
Dispatcher acknowledged 10-4.
WO #3 stated the Acura was in the oncoming lanes (eastbound on Dundas Street).
Dispatcher acknowledged 10-4.
An officer stated he just rammed me.
Dispatcher asked, “Approaching Highway 6?”
The officer indicated negative and noted that the Acura breezed through Highway 6.
Dispatcher acknowledged 10-4.
CCTV DataStatic CCTV data obtained from private and public sources was of no probative value to advance the investigation of the incident.
In-car Camera System (ICCS) DataHRPS Unit Operated by WO #3
04:27 WO #3 enters the green traffic signal at Burke Street. WO #3 states that the speeds are continuing at 70 to 80 km/h.
HRPS Operated by WO #6
Materials Obtained from Police Service Upon request, the SIU received the following materials and documents from the HRPS and the OPP between January 26, 2021 and February 10, 2021:
- Communications audio recordings;
- Crash Data Retrieval data;
- Drawings by WO #3, WO #2 and WO #6;
- HRPS Event Chronology;
- History with the Complainant;
- HRPS Policy-SAP;
- HRPS Policy-Cadet Program;
- HRPS Reconstruction Data;
- HRPS SAP Training: SO #2, SO #4 and SO #3;
- HRPS Seized Items;
- HRPS Shift Activity Report;
- HRPS Supplementary Report - Acura purchase;
- HRPS Training Record-SO #1;
- HRPS-AVL data Burlington;
- HRPS-AVL data Oakville;
- HRPS-Fail to Stop Report;
- HRPS-General Occurrence;
- HRPS-GPS data;
- HRPS ICCS data;
- HRPS Motor Vehicle Collision Report;
- Notes-WO #4;
- Notes-Officer #1
- Notes-Officer #2;
- Notes-WO #1;
- Notes-Officer #3;
- Notes-the SEW;
- Notes-WO #3;
- Notes-Officer #4;
- Notes-WO #2;
- Notes-Officer #5;
- Notes-WO #6;
- Notes-WO #5;
- OPP Fail to Stop Report- WO #1;
- OPP General Occurrence Report;
- OPP Interview Statement regarding stolen plates; and
- OPP Proof of Service to WO #1.
Materials Obtained from Other SourcesThe SIU obtained records from the following other sources between January 25, 2021 and March 3, 2021:
- CCTV data – from Business #1 on Dundas Street East, Waterdown;
- CCTV data – from Business #2 on Dundas Street East, Waterdown;
- CCTV data – from Business #3 on Dundas Street East, Waterdown;
- CCTV data – from Business #4 on Dundas Street East, Waterdown;
- CCTV data – from Business #1 on Highway 5 West;
- CCTV data – from Business #2 on Highway 5 West;
- CCTV data – from the Ministry of Transportation of Ontario; and
- HGH records for the Complainant relevant to the incident.
At about 10:52 p.m. of January 24, 2021, while traveling west on Highway 5 in Dundas, Ontario, the Complainant’s Acura MDX SUV crashed into the northside ditch of the roadway. The vehicle came to a rest having struck a tree in front of the property at 71 Highway 5, approximately 700 metres west of the road’s intersection with Highway 6. The collision marked the culmination of a protracted engagement with several HRPS officers, some of whom had attempted a rolling block of the Acura moments before.
The Complainant first came to the attention of the police shortly before 10:00 p.m. as he made his way westbound on Highway 403 through Oakville. WO #1 of the OPP, patrolling the highway and operating a speed measurement device, had clocked the Acura traveling at 154 km/h. The officer activated his emergency equipment intending to stop the driver for speeding. The Complainant pulled to the right and onto the Third Line exit ramp. Instead of stopping, however, the Complainant blew through the red light at the ramp’s end onto southbound Third Line. WO #1, deciding not to pursue, pulled over onto the shoulder of Third Line and radioed what had happened.
The OPP notified the HRPS of the “fail to stop” and HRPS officers were directed to “be on the look-out” for the Acura. An HRPS officer first spotted the vehicle northbound on Bronte Road at Wyecroft Road. SO #4 and his passenger, WO #2, observed the Acura approaching their location at Bronte Road and Dundas Street, and attempted to set up a spike belt in the area. The Complainant, however, turned westbound onto Dundas Street before the device was deployed. SO #4 and WO #2 followed the Acura at a distance on Dundas Street, watched as it disregarded red traffic lights and swerved through lanes of traffic, and eventually lost sight of it.
HRPS officers picked up the Acura’s trail again as it exited onto Appleby Line. With several police vehicles behind him, the Complainant travelled south until Upper Middle Road, whereupon he made a U-turn and proceeded north on Appleby Line. After a distance, the Complainant turned back again and travelled south until Dundas Street, where he turned right and accelerated westward.
WO #3 was among the HRPS officers who had tracked the Complainant on Appleby Line and was the lead officer behind the Acura as it travelled west on Dundas Street. The officer noted the Acura’s speed over the radio - about 130 km/h at one point - as well as the traffic and road conditions, which were light and clear. Not wanting to alert the Complainant to his presence, WO #3 did not activate his emergency equipment and stayed well back of the Acura. The officer lost ground on the Acura as he came to a stop at the red light at Brant Street, which the Complainant had disregarded. In the area of Burke Street, WO #3 radioed that the Acura’s front right tire had come off. Moments earlier, on Dundas Street just east of Highway 407, SO #1 had deployed a spike belt over which the Acura had travelled.
As the convoy of vehicles neared Hollybrush Drive, SO #1 went over the radio and called for officers to, “Box him in, get him stopped.” With that, several police cruisers overtook WO #3’s vehicle and positioned themselves around the Acura. Among these was a cruiser operated by SO #4. The officer, having accelerated to position his cruiser ahead of the Acura, was struck from behind by the Complainant just east of Clappison Avenue. The Acura continued past Clappison Avenue on a red light as SO #4’s cruiser came to a stop in the vicinity of the intersection.
The Complainant continued a short distance through the red light at Highway 6 with multiple police cruisers still on his tail. Several hundred metres west of the intersection, SO #2 maneuvered his cruiser into the eastbound lane alongside the Acura, still traveling west on Dundas Street. A short time thereafter, the driver’s side of the Acura and passenger side of the cruiser collided. The Acura was sent rightward into the northside ditch of the roadway where it struck a tree. The cruiser jumped the northside curb just west of the Acura’s rest location, travelled through the ditch and came to stop in a parking lot.
The HRPS cruisers that had been following the Acura converged on the scene of the collision. SO #3 drove his cruiser’s front end up against the rear passenger side of the Acura to prevent its continued operation. Led by SO #1, and arrest team of several officers was formed and slowly made their way to the Acura. They yelled at the Complainant to exit the vehicle. When he did not, the officers smashed the driver’s door window and opened the door, through which they extricated the Complainant before handcuffing him.
Following his arrest, the Complainant was taken by ambulance to hospital where he was diagnosed with a fractured nose and other internal injuries.
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. Simply negligence is not sufficient to ground liability under the provision. That is to say, it is not enough that the conduct in issue fell short of a reasonable standard of care. Rather, as an offence of penal negligence, liability is predicated, in part, on conduct that departs markedly from the level of care that a reasonable person would have exercised in the circumstances. In the instant case, the issue is whether there was a want of care on the part of any of the subject officials in the manner in which they operated their vehicles that contributed to the collision at the end of the pursuit and/or was so egregious as to attract criminal sanction. In my view, there was not.
The HRPS officers who initially responded to the “fail to stop” broadcast put out by the OPP in relation to the Acura were acting in the lawful discharge of their duties. They were aware that the Complainant had been detected speeding on Highway 403 at 154 km/h. At that velocity, not only were there grounds to believe that he had committed an infraction under the Highway Traffic Act for speeding, but there were arguably grounds to also believe the Complainant was committing the Criminal Code offence of dangerous driving. If not, those grounds certainly materialized very quickly following their initial interventions as the Complainant was seen to travel past red lights and weave recklessly in and out of traffic, including via oncoming lanes of traffic.
The HRPS officers’ engagement with the Acura started in earnest after the Complainant turned westward onto Dundas Street from Appleby Line. Indeed, though HRPS officers had tracked the Complainant from Bronte Road onto Dundas Street, and then south and north on Appleby Line before the turn onto Dundas Street, during which time the Complainant continued to speed and disregard traffic control signals, it is not altogether clear that he was even aware of the officers’ presence behind and in front of the Acura for much of this time. Once on Dundas Street from Appleby Line, there is insufficient evidence to reasonably conclude that any of the subject officials transgressed the limits of care prescribed by the criminal law.
The first significant intervention during this time was the deployment by SO #1 of the spike belt across Dundas Street, which I am satisfied was a tactic reasonably available to the officer. At minimum, it is evident that the device punctured the Acura’s front passenger tire. By that time, it had become abundantly apparent that the Complainant constituted a clear and present danger on the roadway. He had shown a reckless disregard for the lives and safety of the traveling public around him, blowing through multiple red lights, speeding, and driving in the opposing lanes of traffic to maneuver around vehicles. It was also obvious that he had no intention of stopping for the police, whose presence he had by then discerned. There was some urgency in the circumstances to stopping the Acura giving its continuing threat to public safety, and I am unable to reasonably conclude that SO #1 acted imprudently in resorting to the spike belt, even though he would have appreciated its successful deployment would result in some loss of control by the Acura’s driver. As it turned out, the spike belt resulted in the controlled deflation of the Acura’s front passenger tire, and no motorists or pedestrians in the area were actually endangered by its use.
Thereafter, while there were aspects of the manner in which the subject officials operated their vehicles that are open to legitimate scrutiny, I am satisfied that they comported themselves within the limits of care prescribed by the criminal law until the rolling block was called by SO #1. Thus, while the officers exceeded the speed limit as they attempted to keep pace with the Acura, the GPS data associated with their cruisers suggest that the subject officials’ speeds hovered between 110 and 120 km/h at their top end along sections of Dundas Street governed by 60 km/h and 80 km/h speed limits. Coupled with the light traffic on the roadway, and the clear and dry weather, I am not persuaded that those speeds created an undue risk of harm, particularly as there is no indication of any third parties having had to take evasive action to avoid the cruisers. Moreover, though there is circumstantial evidence based on an interpretation of the GPS data that one or more of the subject officers may have failed to come to a complete stop at red lights along the route, there is no definitive evidence in this respect. On the other hand, there is evidence that the vehicles slowed and, on occasion, stopped, before proceeding through red lights at traffic-controlled intersections. Finally, there is no question of the Complainant having been unduly pushed by the subject officials until the penultimate stages of their engagement. Until the takedown was called in the area of Hollybrush Drive, the police vehicles were well back of the Acura affording the Complainant every opportunity to desist from his reckless course had he been so inclined.
In the final analysis, the subject officials’ liability comes down to the rolling block that was called by SO #1 and its attempted execution by SO #4, SO #3 and SO #2.  The tactic, requiring as it does the positioning of cruisers ahead, behind and beside the subject vehicle in order to force it to a stop, carries with it the possibility of vehicular contact and is inherently dangerous. It should be reserved for the most pressing situations. It is arguable whether this was one of those situations.
By the time SO #1 called for the takedown, it was clear that the Acura had lost a front tire. Quickly thereafter, as SO #4 pulled up ahead of the Acura to begin the rolling block, it also became clear that the Complainant was prepared to use his vehicle to ram his way through any blockade as he struck the rear of the officer’s cruiser. In the circumstances, would not the better course have been for the officers to keep their distance, as they had been, rather than to risk vehicular contact once more by again surrounding the Acura? As it happened, vehicular contact is exactly what occurred, and is precisely what resulted in the Acura’s loss of control and crash into the ditch.
On the other side of the ledger, there can be no doubt that the Complainant’s driving had for a protracted period of time constituted a serious danger on the roadway. He had managed to travel past multiple red lights with impunity as he drove westbound toward Highway 6, but not without some close calls. At Clappison Avenue, for example, a civilian driving a van north into Dundas Street on a green light had to come to a sudden stop to avoid colliding with the Complainant proceeding west through the intersection. The officers could pull back and hope for continued good fortune as the Complainant made his way westward toward other traffic-controlled intersections, or they could seize the opportunity of a hobbled vehicle to attempt to bring the pursuit to an end. In the heat of the moment, it would be difficult to conclude that the balance of public safety considerations was so prohibitive as to render any takedown attempt markedly unreasonably.
There is one additional area of the evidence that must be addressed. Specifically, there is evidence that SO #3 and SO #2 intentionally drove their vehicles into the Acura that the Complainant was operating. The crash data retrieved from SO #2’s cruiser reveals steering input to the right at about the time of the cruiser’s collision with the Acura just before both vehicles crashed into the ditch. And there is an apparent paint transfer scuff mark on the front bumper of SO #3’s cruiser indicating that it might have contacted the Acura sometime before it drove up to the vehicle and pinned it against the tree. If true, the evidence might reveal a significant escalation in the risk level to the public created by the officers, including to the Complainant himself.
The evidence, however, is insufficiently cogent to tip the balance of the liability analysis against the officers. With respect to the contact made between SO #3’s cruiser and the Acura, little if anything is known about where the impact occurred and whether it was accidental or prompted by the conduct of the officer or the Complainant (or some combination of both). As for the contact between the Acura and SO #2’s cruiser, the officer’s passenger, the SEW, believed that it was precipitated by the Complainant intentionally driving into the police vehicle’s passenger side. The collision damage done to both vehicles, in my estimation, is consistent with either scenario, as is the evidence regarding the steering input of the cruiser at the time, which might represent an attempt by SO #2 to correct course after being struck by the Acura. In light of the equivocal nature of this evidence, I am not satisfied on reasonable grounds that it bears materially on the lability issue in this case.
For the foregoing reasons, there are no reasonable grounds in my view to believe that any of the subject officials conducted themselves other than lawfully in the course of the pursuit that unfolded with the Acura the Complainant was operating. Accordingly, there is no basis for proceeding with criminal charges and the file is closed.
Date: May 25, 2021
Electronically approved by
Special Investigations Unit
- 1) The following records contain sensitive personal information and are not being released pursuant to section 34(2) of the Special Investigations Unit Act, 2019. The material portions of the records are summarized below. [Back to text]
- 2) It should be noted that the officers accelerated to over 130 km/h once the takedown was called by SO #1. Though significantly in excess of the speed limit, the velocities occurred over a relatively short distance as the officers were attempting to catch up with the Acura to execute the rolling block. In context, I am satisfied these speeds do not materially add to the liability analysis. [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.