Toronto police inspector pleads not guilty to misconduct

Insp. Joyce Schertzer appeared before a tribunal in Toronto Monday and pleaded not guilty to three misconduct charges under the Police Services Act.  (Toronto Police Service/YouTube - image credit)
Insp. Joyce Schertzer appeared before a tribunal in Toronto Monday and pleaded not guilty to three misconduct charges under the Police Services Act. (Toronto Police Service/YouTube - image credit)

A high-ranking Toronto police officer pleaded not guilty to misconduct charges at a disciplinary hearing Monday after allowing her nephew to leave the scene of a crash in 2022, in turn allegedly contravening the force's conflict of interest policy and removing an investigator's ability to determine if alcohol was a factor in the collision.

Insp. Joyce Schertzer appeared before a tribunal in Toronto and pleaded not guilty to three misconduct charges under the Police Services Act.

The charges stem from an incident that happened shortly before noon on May 1, 2022, just outside The Boulevard Club at 1491 Lake Shore Boulevard W., in the city's west end.

Schertzer was working at 11 Division that day when she got a call from her daughter — who is a constable with Toronto police — telling her Schertzer's nephew had been in a collision, the tribunal heard.

Hearing participants also heard Monday that after she was told about the crash, Schertzer arranged for an officer from her division to be dispatched to 14 Division, where the collision happened. Generally, the tribunal heard, officers respond to calls within their respective divisions — though a map displayed by the defence during the proceedings showed 11 Division and 14 Division sit next to each other, with the barrier between them lying close to where the crash happened.

"In calling for a unit from your division, you circumvented the priority system to the benefit of your family," tribunal documents outlining the charges against Schertzer read. "While on scene, you were the first to speak to your nephew. You gathered information about the collision and became actively involved in the investigation. You then had a private conversation with the investigating officer and your nephew was advised he could leave the scene."

Truck slams into pole

Videos played during the hearing show Schertzer's nephew, who was only referred to as "Calvin," driving a white pickup truck and trying to turn left on Lake Shore Boulevard from the country club's parking lot. Cones were also set up in the area as part of a road race happening that day, and a private security employee was at the edge of the club's driveway, directing traffic.

In the video, the truck can be seen making a left onto the busy roadway, before narrowly missing a car that was heading east. The truck then proceeds into the grassy median to the north, before slamming into a pole.

The tribunal heard testimony and saw body camera footage from Const. Braden Doherty, who was the officer from Schertzer's division who was dispatched to the scene at Schertzer's request to attend.

The body camera footage shows Doherty arriving at the scene and speaking with Schertzer, before proceeding to talk with her nephew.

In the video, Calvin states the security guard waved him into traffic, and he sped up to avoid hitting an oncoming car, before losing control because of slick road conditions. Video footage shows the truck's front end crumpled against a concrete pole, with the airbag deployed inside.

When asked if he is OK, Calvin says he is "just shaken up," but doesn't feel any neck or chest pain.

"I think I'm OK, I'm just rattled," he said.

Body camera turned off

There is also a moment in the video in which Doherty asks Schertzer if he can turn his camera off. She says yes, and he does so.

When the camera is turned back on, Doherty says he has determined "no criminality" has taken place and he thinks it's OK if Calvin leaves the scene, to which Schertzer agrees.

Toronto police have charged an 18-year-old woman with a murder that took place in late 2022.
Toronto police have charged an 18-year-old woman with a murder that took place in late 2022.

Schertzer's hearing continues this week. (Robert Krbavac/CBC)

When asked by prosecutor Scott Hutchison why he turned off the camera, Doherty said "in hindsight" he wished he hadn't, as "there was nothing nefarious discussed."

"Nobody asked you to do anything but the right thing, correct?" defence lawyer Joanne Mulcahy asked during cross examination.

"That's correct," Doherty responded.

Doherty also said he didn't speak to any witnesses at the scene and didn't think Calvin was under the influence of alcohol based on their conversation.

"There was no form of impairment in any way, right?" Mulcahy asked.

"I didn't observe any, no," he responded.

Family 'helped this go away,' officer says

During the tribunal's morning session, participants also saw additional body camera footage that came from a second officer working with traffic services who visited the scene later that day.

The tribunal was told that because Calvin's truck damaged city property, a traffic services officer was mandated to investigate — and tribunal documents allege that officer didn't have a chance to determine whether or not alcohol might have been a factor in the collision.

In this body camera footage, Calvin has been called back to the scene and is given a ticket for careless driving.

"Honestly man, you made a big mistake today," said the officer in the video, who has yet to testify.

"You're very fortunate that you have family members who have helped this go away in the big scheme of things."

The video also shows the second officer finding a loose rifle round and shotgun shells inside the truck.

When questioned about them, Schertzer's nephew says he had been out turkey hunting, to which the officer tells him to store his ammunition properly.

The proceedings are set to continue this week.