SIU clears officer for collision following police pursuit

·3 min read

Director of the Special Investigations Unit (SIU), Joseph Martino, has released his findings in an officer involved pursuit on Highway 401.

Martino determined that there are no reasonable grounds to believe that an OPP officer committed a criminal offence in connection with a collision shortly after a pursuit on Highway 401 on October 26, 2020, in which a 31-year-old woman caused a single vehicle rollover.

On Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2021 the SIU released their findings in the case regarding the incident and whether or not the officer in question was guilty of any wrongdoing.

Shortly after midnight on Monday, Oct. 26, 2020 a woman suffered a right scapular fracture and a broken left leg when her vehicle collided with the rock cut on the westbound 401 off ramp at Montreal Street in Kingston. As she had been pursued by OPP officers in the moments prior to the collision, the SIU was notified and commenced an investigation.

According to SIU documentation, the OPP reported that the female driver’s husband had called the police to advise that his wife, the Complainant, was driving while impaired. The Subject Officer (SO) of the OPP, operating a police cruiser, initially saw the Complainant's vehicle while driving eastbound on Highway 401.

SIU say the SO initiated a pursuit after witnessing the woman travelling at upwards of 140 km/h in a black Honda Civic. The vehicle passed him travelling eastbound on the 401 just after the Division Street on ramp. The SO observed the vehicle straddling the shoulder of the passing lane and coming close to striking the concrete barrier, and decided to pull it over, according to the SIU.

The officer accelerated to catch up to the Honda at speeds in excess of 160 km/h. Believing that the Complainant was not quite sure she knew what he wanted her to do, the SO pulled alongside her vehicle and motioned at her to pull onto the south shoulder. The Complainant did not do so; rather, she accelerated and again pulled away from the cruiser.

The Honda exited the 401 at Highway 15, and the SO followed until he was asked to disengage by his sergeant, according to the SIU. After resuming patrol he heard over his radio that the Complainant was travelling northbound on Highway 15. In coordination with a second OPP patrol, the SO attempted a tandem stop. The Honda slowed, then veered around the OPP vehicles, striking the SO's vehicle, and accelerated away. SIU say the officers terminated pursuit.

At 12:16 a.m., Kingston Police (KP) advised the OPP that there was a rollover at Montreal Street and Highway 401 at the off-ramp. When the police officers arrived, they saw that the Complainant's vehicle was in the ditch.

Kingstonist covered the incident at the time. More details can be found here.

“The SO was within his rights in initiating a pursuit of the Complainant’s motor vehicle as it sped past him on Highway 401 and then refused the officer’s direction to pull over,” Martino wrote in his findings. “There is evidence that the Complainant was traveling significantly over the speed limit and was subject to being stopped and ticketed. But speed was not the only issue. The officer had also seen the Complainant driving on the passing lane shoulder and almost striking the concrete barrier. There were grounds, in the circumstances, to believe the Complainant was driving dangerously and/or under the influence.”

“In the final analysis, as I am satisfied that the SO did not at any time transgress the limits of care prescribed by the criminal law during his engagement with the Complainant’s Honda, there is no basis for proceeding with charges against the officer and the file is closed,” he concluded.

The SIU is a civilian law enforcement agency that investigates incidents involving police officers where there has been death, serious injury, or allegations of sexual assault. For the full SIU report, click here.

Jessica Foley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, kingstonist.com