THUNDER BAY - A two-vehicle collision involving an Ontario Provincial Police vehicle last summer that resulted in serious injuries to three people does not warrant criminal charges according to the Special Investigations Unit.
SIU director, Joseph Martino, said in his final report issued on Monday that he is: “satisfied there are no reasonable grounds to believe that the SO (Subject Officer) committed a criminal offence in connection with the accident.”
The collision took place on June 11, 2019 on Golf Links Road. According to the SIU report, the subject officer was driving an unmarked OPP vehicle northbound on Golf Links when a SUV turning left off of Donald Caddo Drive pulled out in front.
The SUV was struck on the front driver’s side by the front passenger side of the OPP vehicle. The driver of the SUV, a 75-year-old man, sustained a fractured vertebra and the 62-year-old female passenger suffered an ankle fracture. A 37-year-old male passenger in the OPP vehicle suffered a fracture to his leg and finger.
At the time of the collision, the subject officer driving the OPP vehicle was involved in mobile surveillance training and was tracking a ‘target’ vehicle driven by other OPP officers.
According to the SIU report, just before the collision on Golf Links Road, the OPP vehicle was travelling at 122 kilometres an hour and impact occurred at 76 kilometres an hour.
“While the SO’s speed is certainly subject to scrutiny and perhaps even criticism, it fell short, in my view, of rendering the officer’s conduct a marked deviation from a reasonable level of care in the circumstances,” Martino wrote in his report.
Martino added that the officer’s speed represented a danger on the roadway to other traffic in the area and had the vehicle’s speed not been twice the posted 60 kilometres an hour limit on Golf Links Road, the SUV “would likely have cleared the intersection and completed his turn before the arrival of the police vehicle.”
However, Martino said the officer’s speed was mitigated by several factors.
“Police vehicles used in the lawful performance of a police officer’s duties are exempt from the governing speed limits,” Martino wrote. “While the SO was not responding to an emergency call for service, he was operating a police vehicle and engaged in a bona fide training activity at the time of the crash; he was clearly in the exercise of official duties and therefore captured by the protection of the provision.”
The charge against the officer under consideration was dangerous driving causing bodily harm. However, after reviewing the evidence, which included interviewing the three complainants and several witnesses, excluding the SO who has the legal right to decline interview, Martino ruled there were no grounds to proceed with charges.
“I am unable to reasonably conclude on balance that the SO’s conduct, and his speed in particular over a stretch of road under 400 metres in length, was so wanting in the circumstances that it transgressed the limits of care prescribed by the criminal law,” he wrote. “Consequently, there are no grounds for proceeding with criminal charges against the officer.”