Windsor police made the right call to stop pursuing vehicle that later crashed, SIU concludes

Investigators examine the scene of a three-vehicle crash on Riverside Drive East on Oct. 15, 2023. (Dax Melmer/CBC - image credit)
Investigators examine the scene of a three-vehicle crash on Riverside Drive East on Oct. 15, 2023. (Dax Melmer/CBC - image credit)

Windsor police officers who briefly attempted to stop a car that ran multiple red lights before a fatal high-speed crash on Riverside Drive have been cleared of wrongdoing by Ontario's police watchdog.

In a decision released on Monday, the Special Investigation Unit found that there were no reasonable grounds to believe that officers committed a criminal offence.

Two people, a 17-year-old male passenger and a 19-year-old man driving a Dodge Charger, were killed. Two others were seriously injured, a 17-year-old male and a 48-year-old woman.

The three-car crash took place around 1:20 a.m. on Oct. 15, 2023.

The Charger driver "had been drinking and driving dangerously," the SIU concluded.

The SIU investigates incidents of serious injury, death or sexual assault involving police in Ontario. (Dax Melmer/CBC)

According to the SIU investigation, two officers were in an unmarked cruiser on Park Street near Ouellette Avenue when they saw the Charger drive through a red on Ouellette.

They turned a corner and went a "short distance" but stopped pursuit and turned off the sirens once they saw the driver run another red on University Avenue.

"That was a reasonable thing to do," SIU director Joseph Martino concluded in a written report.

The driver "had now committed two very dangerous manoeuvres, the latter when he possibly knew of the police presence behind him, and there was reason to believe a police pursuit would only aggravate the risk to public safety."

The SIU concluded that the driver believed he was still being pursued and "continued to drive recklessly."

The Charger headed east on Riverside Drive, entering the intersection at Glengarry Avenue on a red and hitting a Chrysler minivan that was turning left.

Two people were killed in the Oct. 15, 2023, crash on Riverside Drive, and two others were seriously injured. (Dax Melmer/CBC)

The SIU's collision reconstructionist found that the Charger was travelling at a speed of about 145 km/h heading up to that intersection, but slowed to about 88 km/h.

From there, the car was "out of control" as it moved east, and the force of the first crash pushed it toward the westbound lanes and into another car, the report states.

"The middle driver side of the Dodge Charger collided violently with the front of a Toyota vehicle," the SIU report stated. "This caused the rotation of the Dodge Charger to violently reverse direction, which split the Dodge in half."

At the time of the crash, the officers were still on Ouellette Avenue but then went to the scene to help.