SIU Director’s Report - Case # 21-OVD-163
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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 death of a 20-year-old man (the “Complainant”).
Notification of the SIUOn May 25, 2021, the Niagara Regional Police Service (NRPS) notified the SIU of the death of the Complainant. NRPS reported that at 10:08 a.m., on May 25, 2021, the Subject Official (SO) attempted to stop the Complainant, who was riding an un-plated motorcycle without a helmet. The SO performed a U-turn to follow the motorcycle and it crashed at the intersection of York Street and Dufferin Street, St. Catharines.
The Complainant was deceased, and his body had been taken to St. Catharines General Hospital.
The TeamDate and time team dispatched: 05/25/2021 at 11:45 a.m.
Date and time SIU arrived on scene: 05/25/2021 at 12:03 p.m.
Number of SIU Investigators assigned: 3
Number of SIU Forensic Investigators assigned: 2
Affected Person (aka “Complainant”):20-year-old male, deceased
Civilian Witnesses (CW)CW #1 Interviewed
CW #2 Interviewed
CW #3 Interviewed
CW #4 Interviewed
CW #5 Interviewed
CW #6 Interviewed
CW #7 Interviewed
CW #8 Interviewed
CW #9 Interviewed
CW #10 Interviewed
CW #11 Interviewed
CW #12 Interviewed
CW #13 Interviewed
The civilian witnesses were interviewed between May 25, 2021 and June 3, 2021.
Subject Official SO Declined interview, as is the subject official’s legal right. Notes received and reviewed.
Witness Officials (WO)WO #1 Interviewed
WO #2 Interviewed
The witness officials were interviewed on May 29, 2021.
The Scene York Street travelled in a north/south direction with Taylor Avenue intersecting from the west. Taylor Avenue travelled in a northwest/southeast direction. Both roadways were two-way unmarked roadways in a residential area. Roadway surfaces were in good condition with level grade and there were no posted speed limit signs. There were two vehicles within the confines of the guarded area.
Police Vehicle – the SO
This was a marked police SUV cruiser displaying graphics adopted by the NRPS. This vehicle was equipped with emergency lighting and siren that were not operating at the time of the SIU’s arrival. The police SUV was orientated northwest at the intersection of Taylor Avenue and Dufferin Street. There appeared to be no collision damage on this vehicle that could be attributed to this incident.
Deceased’s Vehicle - small mini-motorcycle - no plates
This vehicle was lying on its side in the park area at the intersection of Taylor Avenue and York Street. There was significant collision damage as a result of it having struck a pole at the intersection of Taylor Avenue and York Street. A large area of debris including vehicle parts from the bike and personal items were found in proximity of the pole and continued to the area of the bike.
Figure 1 – The Complainant’s mini-motorcycle
NRPS Radio CommunicationsThe SO: I’m just trying to catch up to an un-plated motorcycle driver with no helmet refusing to stop. Northbound on York going 55, he just blew the stop sign here, I’m not pursuing him, I’m just kind of watching him go.”
The SO: “I’m off here at Dufferin and York. I need a 52 (ambulance) here now, he’s unresponsive, he’s crashed his motorcycle. Clearly unresponsive and vital signs absent (VSA). I need an ambulance here now.”
Closed-circuit Television (CCTV) Footage from a Residence on York StreetCCTV footage was retrieved from a residence on York Street, St. Catharines.
At 10:03:17 a.m., the view depicted workers cutting and trimming the front lawn. There was no traffic on York Street.
At 10:05:56 a.m., a small motorcycle drove northbound on York Street, with a male driver in a dark T-shirt wearing no helmet.
At 10:06:06 a.m., a marked police SUV cruiser drove north on York Street with its roof emergency lights on following in the direction of the motorcycle.
CCTV Footage from the Big Deal Convenience Store - 35 York StreetThe store was located on the west side of York Street, north of Louisa Street. The video commenced at 9:58 a.m. Cars were depicted driving on York Street, and coming and going to the variety store parking lot.
At 10:08:43 a.m., a small motorcycle was seen going northbound on York Street at high speed with one male on it wearing a black T-shirt and no helmet. The motorcycle drove through an all-way stop sign at the intersection of York Street and Louisa Street without slowing or stopping.
At 10:08:58 a.m., a marked NRPS police SUV cruiser approached the intersection with its emergency roof lights activated. The police SUV cruiser slowed, almost to a stop, and then proceeded through the intersection. The emergency lights were deactivated as it crossed the intersection.
CCTV Footage from a Residence on Taylor AvenueAt 10:08:57 a.m., a car was seen traveling north on York Street, turning to continue north on Taylor Avenue.
At 10:09:01 a.m., the Complainant was seen traveling north on York Street on a small motorcycle and veering towards Taylor Avenue. The motorcycle drove up onto the sidewalk and into the green space separating the street. The Complainant struck the right side of a large wooden utility pole on the east side of the east sidewalk on Taylor Avenue. The motorcycle continued on and the Complainant was thrown to the right, face down on the grass.
At 10:09:20 a.m., a marked NRPS police SUV cruiser travelled north on York Street and pulled onto Taylor Avenue where it stopped just north of the pole. The SO got out of the police SUV cruiser, and walked over to the Complainant on the ground.
Global Positioning System (GPS) Data for the SO’s NRPS Police CruiserThe GPS data related to the SUV cruiser operated by the SO on May 25, 2021 for the time period of 10:00 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. The following is a summary of the information derived from the data.
The SO travelled southbound on Hampstead Place to Carleton Street. He turned right to go westbound on Carleton Street (speed 32.4 km/h). He turned left at Ontario Street and drove south at speeds of 28.9 km/h, 48.7 km/h and 66.7 km/h.
The SO slowed down to 19.1 km/h and stopped at Welland Avenue. The SO turned right onto Welland Avenue and was traveling at 60 km/h over the river towards Highway 406.
The SO slowed down to 16.3 km/h, stopped, and made a U-turn at the traffic lights at Highway 406 and Fourth Avenue. He then travelled eastbound on Welland Avenue accelerating to 87 km/h over the river, and then down to 76.1 km/h and 27.6 km/h as he approached Ontario Street. The officer stopped at Welland Avenue and Ontario Street, and then continued east on Welland Avenue, accelerating up to 73.5 km/h and then stopping at York Street. The SO turned left and travelled north on York Street, at speeds ranging from 38 km/h up to 55.9 km/h, at Elizabeth Street.
The SO stopped (or slowed almost to a stop) for the stop sign at Louisa Street, and then continued north on York Street at a speed of 27.2 km/h. He drove up to 66.5 km/h at Chaplin Avenue, and stopped at the stop sign at Beech Street. He continued north on York Street at 46.7 km/h to the intersection of Taylor Avenue, where he stopped.
Materials Obtained from Police ServiceUpon request, the SIU received the following materials and documents from the NRPS between May 26, 2021 and June 22, 2021:
• General Occurrence;• Notes-the SO;• Notes-WO #1;• Notes-WO #2;• Communication Recordings;• General Order - Traffic Enforcement;• General Order - Suspect Apprehension Pursuits;• Drone Photographs;• Versadex Report;• GPS data – the SO’s police vehicle;• Mechanical Vehicle Examination Reports (x2);• CCTV Footage from a Residence on York Street;• CCTV Footage from the Big Deal Convenience Store, 35 York Street; and• CCTV Footage from a Residence on Taylor Avenue.
Materials Obtained from Other SourcesThe SIU received the following records from other sources:
• Preliminary Autopsy Findings Report; and• Niagara Emergency Medical Services Ambulance Call Report.
At about 10:00 a.m. of May 25, 2021, the SO was on patrol in his marked police SUV on Fourth Street, east of Highway 406, when the Complainant came to his attention. The Complainant was operating a mini-motorcycle without a helmet eastbound on Fourth Street. The officer executed a U-turn and began to follow the Complainant intending to stop him for a traffic infraction, activating his emergency lights.
The SO pursued the Complainant through a red light at Ontario Street, having first brought his cruiser to a stop. Seconds earlier, the Complainant had blown through the red light. By the time the officer cleared the intersection, the Complainant was well ahead of the cruiser.
The Complainant proceeded to turn left to travel north on York Street, about 220 metres east of Ontario Street. With his engine revving hard and catching the attention of persons in the vicinity, the Complainant appeared to max out his speeds, estimated by one witness to be as fast as 80 km/h. He travelled past stop signs at Louisa Street and Beech Street without stopping. As the Complainant turned left at the roadway’s intersection with Taylor Avenue, he lost control of his motorcycle. The vehicle drove up onto the sidewalk and sideswiped a utility pole. The Complainant took the brunt of the impact – his left side struck the pole and he was thrown from his bike, landing face down a short distance northeast of the pole.
The SO arrived at the scene about 20 seconds after the collision. The officer had followed the Complainant onto York Street, but had lost sight of him shortly after completing his turn from Welland Avenue. The officer exited his cruiser, walked to the Complainant, and broadcast a request for an ambulance. He would go on to check the Complainant’s vitals and administer CPR.
The Complainant was transported from the scene to hospital in an ambulance. He was pronounced deceased at 10:43 a.m.
Cause of DeathThe pathologist at autopsy was of the preliminary view that the Complainant’s death was attributable to blunt force injuries.
Section 320.13, Criminal Code – Dangerous operation of motor vehicles, vessels and aircraft
Section 104(1), Highway Traffic Act – Motorcyclists to wear helmet
Analysis and Director's Decision
The offence that arises for consideration is dangerous driving causing death contrary to section 320.13(3) 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 exercised in the circumstances. In the instant case, the issue is whether there was a want of care on the part of the SO in the operation of his cruiser that contributed to the Complainant’s death and/or was sufficiently egregious as to attract criminal sanction. In my view, there was not.
The SO was in the exercise of his duty when he decided to stop the Complainant for a traffic infraction. The Complainant was operating a motorcycle without a helmet in violation of section 104 of the Highway Traffic Act.
Thereafter, though he pursued the Complainant for a brief period when he failed to stop, the SO comported himself with due care and regard for public safety. The officer’s speeds throughout his engagement with the motorcycle were at all times measured and within reason – topping out at 87 km/h as he first accelerated to catch up with the Complainant having decided to pull him over. Notably, the SO’s speed on York Street, which was fairly narrow and predominantly residential, never exceeded 67 km/h. In addition, the officer was in substantial compliance with the red light he encountered at Ontario Street, and the two stop signs he travelled past on York Street. Lastly, it is apparent that the SO was at all times well back of the motorcycle, in time and distance, such that it cannot be said that the officer unduly pushed the Complainant at any time. Indeed, it is not altogether clear whether the Complainant was even aware of the officer’s presence behind him; he had been seen in the days before the incident speeding on York Street with no regard for stop signs.
For the foregoing reasons, I am satisfied that the SO did not transgress the limits of care prescribed by the criminal law in the course of his involvement in the events resulting in the Complainant’s unfortunate accident. Accordingly, there is no basis for proceeding with criminal charges against the officer, and the file is closed.
Date: September 21, 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.