SIU Director’s Report - Case # 23-PVI-269
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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 section 14 (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.
- 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 of a 21-year-old man (the “Complainant”).
Notification of the SIU On July 16, 2023, at approximately 5:31 p.m., the OPP contacted the SIU with the following information.
At approximately 5:00 a.m., Witness Official (WO) #1 was leaving the Hawkesbury OPP Detachment and was going off-duty. At that time, she saw two vehicles travelling at a high rate of speed northbound in front of the detachment. She followed the two vehicles in her personal vehicle and notified dispatch. Two police officers left the detachment, located the two vehicles, and attempted a tandem stop. One vehicle stopped and one vehicle kept going, but no pursuit was initiated. Approximately ten minutes later, a civilian called 911 to report that a vehicle had crashed into a church. Police officers arrived on scene and the vehicle was empty. At some point, a male - the Complainant - was located and arrested. The Complainant was taken to the Hawkesbury General Hospital, where no injuries were diagnosed. He was released on a Form 10. The OPP subsequently learned that the Complainant had checked himself into a hospital in Montreal, and was diagnosed with cervical fractures, a punctured lung, and various other injuries.
At 6:26 p.m., the OPP re-contacted the SIU to advise that their police officers were more involved with the Complainant’s vehicle than originally reported. Due to the delay in notification and the OPP believing there were no serious injuries, the scene had been processed by the OPP and the vehicle was towed.
The TeamDate and time team dispatched: 2023/07/17 at 8:42 a.m.
Date and time SIU arrived on scene: 2023/07/17 at 9:22 a.m.
Number of SIU Investigators assigned: 4
Number of SIU Forensic Investigators (FIs) assigned: 1
Number of SIU Collision Reconstructionists: 1
Affected Person (aka “Complainant”):21-year-old male; not interviewed (declined)
Subject Official (SO) SO Declined interview and to provide notes, as is the subject official’s legal right
Witness Officials WO #1 Interviewed
WO #2 Interviewed
WO #3 Not interviewed; notes reviewed and interview deemed not necessary
WO #4 Not interviewed; notes reviewed and interview deemed not necessary
The witness officials were interviewed on July 22, 2023.
The Scene The events in question transpired on a stretch of Highway 34 south of Spence Avenue, Hawkesbury.
There was no scene for the SIU to examine. The OPP initially believed the Complainant had not sustained any serious injuries. As a result, the scene was processed by the OPP and the RAV4 was towed.
SIU Collision ReconstructionThe SIU reconstructionist reviewed the video recordings that captured the incident in parts and determined the approximate time, distance, and speed of the Complainant’s RAV4 from when the SO stopped the pursuit until the Complainant reached the intersection of High Street and Main Street.
The SO stopped the pursuit at about 5:21:30 a.m., at a point in time at which the RAV4 was well ahead of the cruiser and close to 5502 Highway 34 (a residence). The RAV4 reached the High Street and Main Street intersection at 5:21:52 a.m., or about 22 seconds later. The distance travelled in the 22 seconds was about one kilometre. This meant the RAV4 travelled about 160 km/h on average from the house to the intersection.
The Google Maps image in Figure 1 illustrated the path of the RAV4 in the final seconds before it crashed into a church.
Figure 1 - Path of Toyota RAV4 before it crashed into the church
The RAV4 sustained significant front-end damage across the entire width of the vehicle. The damage included the front bumper, grille, hood, and forward engine components. In addition, the left front tire was torn from the frame and the structure was pushed back towards the occupant compartment. The left rear tire was found deflated and un-beaded with slight damage to the rim edge.
Figure 2 – Front-end damage to the RAV4
The SO – Global Positioning System (GPS) DataAt 5:19:20 a.m., the GPS data associated with the SO’s vehicle indicated that the officer drove his police vehicle 184.46 km/h southbound on Highway 34 en route to where he attempted the tandem stop. The posted speed limit was 80 km/h.
At 5:20:18 a.m., the officer slowed his speed to 96.12 km/h.
At 5:20:50 a.m., the SO increased his speed to 125.01 km/h as he travelled past WO #1 in her off-duty vehicle.
At 5:20:56 a.m., the SO drove 122.97 km/h as he activated his emergency lights.
At 5:21:03 a.m., the SO drove 83.90 km/h in the oncoming traffic lane. He was beside the Complainant in the RAV4 and attempting a tandem stop.
At 5:21:12 a.m., the Complainant drove on the shoulder of the road to pass the Jetta. The SO pursued the Complainant for approximately 20 seconds before he decided to disengage. The fastest speed he reached during that time was 133.58 km/h.
Video/Audio/Photographic Evidence 
In-car Camera (ICC) Footage – The SOOn July 16, 2023, at 5:18:17 a.m., the video commenced with the police vehicle travelling in the rain.
Starting at about 5:19:22 a.m., the SO asked WO #1 what their speed was, and was advised 90 km/h. The SO indicated he would be there soon.
Starting at about 5:20:07 a.m., the SO advised they would set up a tandem stop on the RAV4 when they arrived.
Starting at about 5:20:57 a.m., the SO activated his emergency lights and siren, and pulled up alongside the RAV4, which had its driver’s side rear window smashed out.
Starting at about 5:21:16 a.m., the RAV4 passed the Jetta on the right shoulder of the road before it accelerated away from the police vehicle. The SO radioed, “Continuing southbound, fail to stop, heavy rain."
Starting at about 5:21:29 a.m., the SO radioed, "I’m going to discontinue."
Starting at about 5:21:34 a.m., the SO pulled to the right side of the roadway and turned off his emergency lights and siren. The SO performed a U-turn and radioed the vehicle was still southbound, it had a broken window, and there was a driver [now known to be the Complainant] wearing full black clothing.
Starting at about 5:22:03 a.m., the SO arrived at the location of WO #2, who had stopped the Jetta. The SO radioed that they had the vehicle pinned. WO #2 stood on the driver’s side of the Jetta. He pointed his pistol and yelled, “Out of the car, get on the ground." A female got out of the driver’s seat of the Jetta. The female was handcuffed on the ground and then lifted from the ground. The SO advised the dispatcher that they had two persons under investigative detention for conspiracy of auto theft.
At 5:32:43 a.m., the video ended.
ICC Footage – WO #2At 5:17:26 a.m., the video commenced. WO #2 drove in the rain and followed the SO, who had his police vehicle’s emergency lights activated.
Starting at about 5:20:30 a.m., the SO radioed, “Going to try and pin the SUV.”
Starting at about 5:21:13 a.m., the SO radioed, “He’s failing to stop.”
Starting at about 5:21:26 a.m., WO #2 stopped his police vehicle.
Starting at about 5:21:29 a.m., the SO radioed, “He’s continuing southbound. Fail to stop. There is heavy rain. I’m going to discontinue.”
Starting at about 5:21:36 a.m., WO #2 resumed driving. WO #2 pulled in front of the Jetta. WO #2 exited his police vehicle and pointed his pistol at the driver of the Jetta and yelled, “Get on the fucking ground, get on the ground now.”
Starting at about 5:22:03 a.m., the SO was at the front of the Jetta. WO #2 yelled, “Get out of the car now, let me see your hands.”
Starting at about 5:22:47 a.m., the SO told the dispatcher that they had two persons for conspiracy of theft.
Starting at about 5:26:14 a.m., WO #2 asked the female who was in the vehicle she was following. The female denied following a vehicle. The female said she was going to the Shell gas station. WO #2 asked the female what she had been doing in Toronto, and she said she was there for the weekend. The female identified herself and told the police officer the sedan belonged to her, and she did not know anything about the car in front of her.
Body-worn Camera (BWC) Footage – The SOOn July 16, 2023, at 5:20:27 a.m., the video began with the SO driving his police vehicle. The weather was rainy.
Starting at about 5:20:59 a.m., the siren and emergency lights were activated on the police vehicle.
Starting at about 5:21:13 a.m., the SO radioed, “He’s failing to stop.”
Starting at about 5:21:20 a.m., the SO spoke over the radio directing other units to pull over the car (Jetta) that was in front of it.
Starting at about 5:21:23 a.m., the SO radioed, “He’s continuing southbound, fail to stop. There is heavy rain. I’m going to discontinue."
Starting at about 5:21:35 a.m., the emergency lights and siren were turned off. The police cruiser slowed down.
Starting at about 5:21:39 a.m., the SO radioed, “Still southbound toward Vankleek Hill. We have the broken window like I said. Ah, Black driver wearing all black clothes.”
At 5:32:41 a.m., the video ended.
At 5:35:27 a.m., the SO’s BWC re-started. It was raining.
Starting at about 5:36:29 a.m., the SO walked up to the Complainant who was on his knees in a parking lot of a business. The SO spoke to the Complainant. The SO told the Complainant to look at him, to which he looked up and there was blood smeared on his face. The SO says, “You shouldn’t have ran, you're all fucked man.” The Complainant asked the SO what happened and the SO told him he lost some teeth.
Starting at about 5:37:50 a.m., the SO walked away from the Complainant and said to another police officer, “Good thing I discontinued.”
At 5:38:09 a.m., the video ended.
BWC Footage - WO #4Starting at about 5:35:52 a.m., the video started. The Complainant sat on the pavement and was handcuffed behind his back. WO #4 wore a yellow jacket and was with the Complainant, who eventually got himself to his knees. WO #4 was speaking and said, “Failed to negotiate the curve.”
Starting at about 5:36:35 a.m., the SO spoke to the Complainant, who was on the ground. The Complainant identified himself by first name. WO #4 told the Complainant he would be going to the police detachment for ‘theft’ and ‘fail to stop’.
Starting at about 5:39:30 a.m., the Complainant was escorted to the police cruiser and placed in the back seat where he was read his rights to counsel.
Starting at about 5:42:15 a.m., the Complainant asked WO #4 to go to the hospital. WO #4 asked the Complainant what the name of the female was. The Complainant did not provide a name.
Starting at about 5:51:05 a.m., the ambulance arrived at the scene. WO #4 told another police officer that he was waiting to see if the SIU would be involved before the cars were moved.
Starting at about 5:52:51 a.m., the paramedics were on scene.
At 6:11:15 a.m., the video ended.
OPP Communications RecordingsThe communication recordings indicated that the pursuit of the RAV4, driven by the Complainant, was discontinued at approximately 5:21 a.m. The OPP were subsequently alerted by a passing motorist, sometime between 5:30 a.m. and 5:32 a.m., that the Complainant's RAV4 had crashed into the Knox Presbyterian Church located at 29 High Street in the town of Vankleek Hill. The Complainant was subsequently arrested while trying to flee the scene of the crash. He was provided with medical assistance and was transported to the hospital.
Video Footage – 16 High Street, Vankleek HillIngram and Sons Cannabis Company located at 16 High Street, Vankleek Hill provided the SIU with video footage that depicted the RAV4 driven by the Complainant as he sped southbound on Highway 34 and subsequently crashed into the church across the street (out of camera view). The footage was 19 minutes and 33 seconds in duration, and commenced at 5:21:26 a.m. on the morning of July 16, 2023. There was a heavy downpour of rain that could be seen in the footage and the roads were very wet.
Starting at about 5:21:51 a.m., a RAV4 came into camera view at a very high rate of speed. The Complainant appeared to have lost control of the RAV4 and struck a sign on the front lawn of a restaurant  across the street. The RAV4 subsequently crashed into the church, two buildings south of the restaurant.
There did not appear to be any police vehicles in pursuit, nor did any police vehicles come into view until approximately 5:33:30 a.m.
Materials Obtained from Police Service Upon request, the SIU received the following materials from the OPP between July 18, 2023, and July 21, 2023:
- Record of computer-assisted dispatch;
- BWC footage;
- ICC footage;
- Communications recordings;
- Reconstruction Report;
- Arrest Report;
- Release papers;
- General Occurrence Report;
- Scene photographs;
- Occurrence Details;
- Supplementary Report;
- Traffic Report;
- Occurrence Details;
- Policy – Suspect Apprehension Pursuits;
- GPS data;
- Notes – WO #1;
- Notes – WO #2;
- Notes – WO #4; and
- Notes – WO #3.
Materials Obtained from Other SourcesThe SIU obtained the following record from other sources:
- Video footage from 16 High Street, Vankleek Hill.
In the morning of July 7, 2023, WO #1 had concluded her shift and was leaving the Hawkesbury Detachment when two vehicles travelling past the station north on Cameron Street caught her attention. The officer followed the vehicles and watched as they made a left turn through a red light at Spence Avenue and then disregarded the stop sign at Cartier Boulevard. The rear driver’s side window on one of the vehicles – a Toyota RAV4 – was smashed out. The other vehicle was a Volkswagen Jetta. Suspecting the RAV4 had been stolen, WO #1 called the SO and reported what she had observed.
The SO told WO #2 what WO #1 had reported, and the two left the detachment in separate cruisers to stop the Jetta and RAV4. While south on Highway 34, the officers passed WO #1 and attempted a tandem stop of the vehicles. The SO pulled alongside the driver’s side of the RAV4, which was following the Jetta. The RAV4 reacted by maneuvering to its right onto the west shoulder of the roadway and accelerating past the Jetta, thereafter, continuing at speed on Highway 34.
The SO accelerated after the RAV4 for about 20 seconds, at which point he disengaged. The officer travelled north on Highway 34 to join WO #2, who had successfully pulled over the Jetta, and assisted in the apprehension of the vehicle’s occupants. A short time later, a passing motorist advised the officers that there had been a collision near the intersection of Highway 34 and Main Street, Vankleek Hill.
Officers attended the crash site and arrested the Complainant. The Complainant, who had been operating the RAV4, lost control of the vehicle and collided with a church on the east side of Highway 34 just south of Main Street. He had sustained multiple fractures.
The Complainant was transported to hospital and treated for his injuries.
Section 320.13 (1) Criminal Code – Dangerous operation causing bodily harm or death
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, a simple want of care will not suffice to give rise to liability. Rather, the offence is predicated, in part, on conduct that amounts to a marked departure from the level of care that a reasonable person would have observed in the circumstances. In the instant case, the issue is whether there was a want of care in the manner in which the SO operated his vehicle, sufficiently egregious to attract criminal sanction, that caused or contributed to the collision. In my view, there was not.
The SO was within his rights in seeking to take the driver of the RAV4 – the Complainant – into custody. Given what he had been told by WO #1, and what he personally observed as he pulled alongside the RAV4, the officer had cause to believe that the Complainant was driving dangerously in contravention of section 320.13(1) of the Criminal Code.
I am also satisfied that the SO comported himself with due care and regard for public safety throughout his engagement with the RAV4. The SO’s speeds catching up to the vehicle were more than twice the speed limit at points, but that was to be expected if the officer was to catch up to the Jetta and RAV4 to be in a position to stop them. Nor does it appear that the officer’s speeds during this pre-engagement phase of the incident directly imperiled third-party traffic. The decision to attempt a tandem stop – a technique in which cruisers are positioned in front and behind a subject vehicle in order to force a controlled deceleration of the vehicle and a safe stop – is subject to scrutiny. It was raining at the time and visibility was poor, which factors would have only added to the inherent risks associated with vehicles moving at speed in close proximity. Be that as it may, the technique never came together – the RAV4 accelerated away before the police cruisers could get in position. Thereafter, though the SO pursued the RAV4 for a period of about 20 seconds, he promptly discontinued when it became apparent that the RAV4 was not going to stop. Given the environmental conditions at the time, that decision, in my view, was a reasonable one. Regrettably, though he had been provided time and space to reduce his velocity if he had been so inclined, the Complainant chose to continue at breakneck speed, losing control of the RAV4 and crashing into a church. He is the author of his own misfortune.
In the result, as there are no reasonable grounds to conclude that the SO transgressed the limits of care prescribed by the criminal law in the course of his brief pursuit of the Complainant, there is no basis for proceeding with charges in this case. the file is closed.
Date: November 10, 2023
Electronically approved by
Special Investigations Unit
- 1) The information in this section reflects the information received by the SIU at the time of notification and does not necessarily reflect the SIU’s finding of facts following its investigation. [Back to text]
- 2) 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]
- 3) Nicko’s Resto Bar located at 17 High Street, Vankleek Hill. [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.