TORONTO, April 8 /CNW/ - The Director of the Special Investigations Unit
(SIU) Ian Scott has determined that an Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) officer
did not commit any criminal offence in relation to the injuries sustained by
four people during an incident that occurred west of London on February 10,
The SIU assigned four investigators and two forensic investigators to
probe the circumstances of this occurrence.
At approximately 8:00 p.m. on February 10, 2009 an OPP officer from the
Elgin Detachment was following a white Pontiac Sunfire with four occupants
that had been reported to be driving erratically westbound on Highway 401 near
Dutton. The Sunfire exited the highway onto Orford Road, followed by the OPP
cruiser. The Sunfire continued on Orford Road, left the road at the
T-intersection at Selton Line and came to rest at the north side of the ditch.
The four occupants of the car were taken to hospital for treatment.
Director Scott said, "In my view, there are no reasonable grounds to
believe that the subject officer committed a criminal offence in relation to
the pursuit that happened west of London. While on the 401, the driver was
acting in a menacing manner in relation to an armoured vehicle. The Sunfire
was attempting to cut the armoured truck off. The driver of the armoured truck
reported this activity to the OPP. The subject officer, who was also
travelling westbound on the 401 but east of the involved vehicles, responded
to the dispatch, and began to catch up. When he approached the armoured
vehicle, he activated his emergency lights for several seconds. He began
following the Sunfire, which increased its speed, and moved into the centre
lane. In an apparent attempt to elude the approaching cruiser, the driver of
the Sunfire suddenly cut in front of a tractor-trailer, and veered off the 401
north on to the Orford Road exit. The subject officer was forced to come to an
almost complete stop in the passing lane in order to allow traffic to pass so
that he could exit in the direction of the pursued vehicle. The Sunfire
continued, but the driver failed to negotiate the T-intersection at Selton
Line. The Sunfire left the road and went airborne over a water filled ditch.
It came to rest on a residence's front lawn. Three of the vehicle's four
occupants, Richard Coughlan, Rennie Lush and Sarah Thompson, suffered
Director Scott concluded, "In my view, there is no relationship between
the extensive injuries received by the three occupants in the car and any act
of criminal liability by the subject officer. Based upon the information
received from his dispatch, the officer had the right to stop the Sunfire, and
if it did not respond to an order to pull over, to engage in a pursuit. The
Sunfire's driver took the pre-emptive evasive step of exiting from the 401 in
an attempt to elude the approaching cruiser driven by the subject officer.
When the officer exited the 401, he was clearly involved in a pursuit, albeit
a short one, of the car. The driver drove in such a reckless manner that an
accident was an inevitability."
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: Kaia Werbus, SIU Communications/Service des
communications, UES, Telephone/No de telephone: (416) 622-0748 or/ou