MARATHON -Crimebeat – An investigation by the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) has reviewed the facts around the September 2011 vehicle injuries sustained by a fourteen-year-old driver and his sixteen-year-old passenger. Ian Scott, the Director of the SIU, has concluded there are no reasonable grounds to believe an Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) officer committed a criminal offence in this case.
The SIU assigned four investigators and one forensic investigator to probe the circumstances of this incident. As is his legal right, the subject officer did not consent to the release of his duty notes or to an interview with the SIU. Twelve witness officers were interviewed or provided duty notes and eighteen civilian witnesses were interviewed. Due to delays in flight availability and the fact that the Trans-Canada Highway was closed because of the collision, it was agreed that OPP collision investigators and re-constructionists would process the scene, take measurements, photograph and collect the evidence.
The investigation found that the following events took place on September 11:
• At approximately 2:30 p.m., the subject officer and another officer saw a Toyota Corolla drive past them at an excessive rate of speed while they were involved in other matters in Schreiber on Hwy 17. They had previously been made aware that a car fitting its description was seen speeding.
• They began a pursuit of the vehicle with the subject officer driving and his partner reporting to the Communications Centre in Thunder Bay. They activated their emergency equipment and stayed in contact with dispatch throughout the suspect apprehension pursuit. They drove toward Terrace Bay at speeds of up to 170 km/h but had difficulty maintaining visual contact of the pursued vehicle. They slowed down as they drove through Terrace Bay. At a hill near Jackfish Lake, east of Terrace Bay, the partner was able to read the rear licence plate, called it in, and ascertained that the car was stolen.
• The officers lost sight of the car, and at an ‘S’ turn, saw fresh skid marks and the vehicle in question in the eastbound lane against a guard rail. The pursued vehicle had left the highway and slammed into a rock cut beside the highway.
• They approached the two individuals in the vehicle. The driver sustained a fractured left clavicle and lacerated liver and the passenger sustained a compound fracture to his right forearm, facial fractures, a hemothorax to his lung and a lacerated spleen.
Director Scott said, “In my view, the subject officer followed the criteria set out in the ‘Suspect Apprehension Pursuits’ section of the Police Services Act. The subject officer had the lawful authority to initiate and engage in this pursuit because the pursued vehicle refused to stop for police and continued to flee. In addition, once the officers ascertained that the vehicle was stolen, they had further authority to pursue the vehicle. The subject officer activated his emergency equipment and kept in constant contact with the Communications Centre. Further, they took into consideration the road conditions. Finally, there is no suggestion of physical contact between the pursuing and pursued vehicles. Accordingly, the driver of the pursued vehicle was the cause of this serious motor vehicle collision and the subject officer cannot in my view be held criminally liable for the injuries that he and his passenger sustained as a result.”