TORONTO, Aug. 13 /CNW/ - James Cornish, the Director of the Special
Investigations Unit (SIU), has concluded that there are no reasonable grounds
to believe that a Barrie Police Service (BPS) officer committed any criminal
offence in regards to a fatal collision that claimed the life of 43-year-old
Michael O'Keefe of Barrie in May of this year.
Four SIU investigators including two SIU forensic investigators and a
collision reconstructionist probed the circumstances that led to the death.
The SIU investigation determined that on Wednesday May 28, 2008 at about
8:00 p.m. a BPS officer attempted to stop a 2007 Nissan Sentra on Essa Rd.
near Anne St. in Barrie. The officer who was operating a marked BPS police car
activated the car's emergency lights. The driver of the Nissan did not stop
and accelerated away from the officer. The Nissan travelled along a number of
streets, and the BPS officer lost sight of the Nissan on Huronia Rd.
As the Nissan went through the intersection of Huronia Road and Yonge
Street the Nissan struck Mr. O'Keefe, who was crossing the road. The Nissan
continued on Yonge Street and eventually collided with a utility pole at
D'Ambrosio Drive. The driver of the Nissan fled the area on foot.
Mr. O'Keefe was transported to Royal Victoria Hospital for treatment.
However, he succumbed to his injuries. The driver of the Nissan was later
apprehended by members of the BPS and is presently before the courts on
charges resulting from this incident.
Director Cornish said, "The officer activated his roof lights and
attempted to pull the vehicle over. The vehicle sped off and numerous breaches
of the rules of the road occurred over the span of the pursuit. The cruiser
reached significant speeds, but the pursued vehicle was going faster and there
was a gap between the Nissan and the police car. There is no suggestion that
the cruiser ever made contact with the Nissan, nor can it be said that the
officer operated his cruiser and unduly "pushed" the Nissan or otherwise
prevented it from coming to a safe stop." Director Cornish added, "Criminal
liability in these cases is premised on a finding that the conduct of the
officer amounted to a marked departure from the standard of care that a
reasonable person would have exercised in the circumstances. On my assessment
of the evidence, given the officer's decision to start and continue the
pursuit, the fact that the officer was for most of the pursuit well back of
the Nissan and the overall manner in which the pursuit was conducted, I am
satisfied that there are no reasonable grounds to believe that the criminal
standard was breached."
The SIU is a civilian agency that investigates cases of serious injuries
(including allegations of sexual assault) and deaths involving the police.
Pursuant to section 113 of the Police Services Act, the Director of the SIU is
mandated to consider whether a criminal offence has been committed by an
officer(s) in connection with the incident under investigation and, where
warranted by the evidence, to cause a criminal charge or charges to be laid
against the officer(s). The Director reports the results of investigations to
the Attorney General.
For further information:
For further information: Frank Phillips, SIU Communications/Service des
communications, UES, Telephone/No de telephone: (416) 622-2287 or/ou
1-800-787-8529 extension 2287