SIU Concludes Investigation into Fatal Accident in Thorold

    TORONTO, Feb. 13 /CNW/ - The Director of the Special Investigations Unit
(SIU) James Cornish has concluded that, "There are no reasonable grounds to
believe that any of the Niagara Regional Police Service (NRPS) officers
involved in this incident committed any criminal offence in connection with
the death of a 15-year-old male in Thorold on October 11, 2007."
    The SIU assigned seven investigators, three forensic identification
technicians and one collision reconstructionist to investigate this incident.
The SIU designated four officers from the NRPS as witness officers and two as
subject officers.
    The SIU investigation determined that on October 10, 2007 at 11:00 p.m.,
officers of the NRPS were searching for a Chevrolet Avalanche that had been
stolen from the lot of a Niagara Falls lounge. During the investigation the
officers determined that the stolen Avalanche went westbound on Highway 20
followed by a black Hummer.
    Two officers, each in their own police cars went westbound on Highway 20.
A short time later they observed the Hummer and the Avalanche stopped in
traffic on Highway 20 at the lift bridge over the Welland canal in Thorold.
The traffic was stopped because the bridge was up. One officer activated his
police car's emergency equipment. When he did, the Hummer pulled out of the
line of traffic and went southbound on Centre Street at a high rate of speed.
    The other officer pulled alongside the Avalanche. The Avalanche
immediately turned left and struck the police car. The officer moved his car
across Centre Street in an attempt to block the Avalanche. The Avalanche
continued driving and struck the police car again. The Avalanche then drove
off at a high rate of speed southbound on Centre Street. Both officers went
southbound on Centre Street after the Avalanche and the Hummer.
    The driver of the Hummer continued on Centre Street and lost control of
it at the intersection of Centre Street and Barron Road. (Centre Street runs
south from Highway 20 and ends at Barron Road. To access Barron Road from
southbound Centre Street a 90-degree left turn is required.) The Hummer left
the road and struck a tree. The Avalanche fled east on Barron Road away from
the area. The pursuit of the black Hummer lasted less than 30 seconds and
traversed one-half kilometre.
    The 15-year-old driver of the Hummer sustained serious chest and internal
injuries and was pronounced dead at the scene. The passenger in the Hummer, an
18-year-old man, sustained serious lower body injuries. However, he managed to
exit the Hummer and elude the police until the following day.
    The SIU examined the involved police cars as well as the Hummer and
Avalanche and canvassed all residents of the area. The provincial policing
standard in relation to vehicle pursuits was scrutinized and all involved
officers were interviewed.
    Director Cornish concluded, "In my view the officers in this case were
engaged in the lawful execution of their duties in attempting to apprehend
this young man. The fact that the pursuit was so brief and covered such a
short distance is significant in that the officers had not (nor had the
Communication Branch) discerned any obvious risk to the public that dictated
the termination of the pursuit prior to the collision occurring. The officers'
driving fell well within the limits prescribed by the criminal law."

    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) 622-2342 or/ou

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