KENORA, Ont. — Despite concerns about how the incident was handled, the Special Investigations Unit has decided that a criminal charge is not warranted in a case in which a 17-year-old girl was hurt trying to exit a moving OPP vehicle.
It happened in the early morning of June 27, 2019 in Kenora.
An OPP officer had taken the intoxicated girl into custody for her own protection as she had no place to stay and had a mental health issue.
En route to the OPP detachment to sober up, she slipped her hands through the bars of an open window in the rear of the cruiser, and opened the door from the outside.
When the officer heard the door opening, he applied the brakes as the girl fell out of the vehicle.
She suffered a broken ankle when she hit the pavement, and was later transferred to Thunder Bay for surgery.
In his report on the incident, SIU Interim Director Joseph Martino said "the fact that the complainant was able to jump out of a moving police cruiser is disconcerting...the subject officer was under a legal obligation to ensure [her] safety while she was in his custody. He failed to do so."
Martino stated that, arguably, the officer should have handcuffed the girl prior to putting her in the cruiser, and ensured that the backseat windows were rolled up.
He added, however, that the officer's failure to restrain her hands "is tempered to an extent by the fact that she was a young person and had been arrested primarily so the officer could take her to a safe location while she sobered."
Martino also noted that the officer reacted quickly as soon as he heard the rear door opening, and minimized the potential for an even greater injury.
He concluded that, although the officer shared some responsibility for the injury, it did not justify laying a charge of criminal negligence causing bodily harm.