SIU Director’s Report - Case # 17-OVD-287
Issued: September 12, 2018
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Mandate of the SIU
The Special Investigations Unit is a civilian law enforcement agency that investigates incidents involving police officers where there has been death, serious injury or allegations of sexual assault. The Unit’s jurisdiction covers more than 50 municipal, regional and provincial police services across Ontario.
Under the Police Services Act, the Director of the SIU must determine based on the evidence gathered in an investigation whether an officer has committed a criminal offence in connection with the incident under investigation. If, after an investigation, there are reasonable grounds to believe that an offence was committed, the Director has the authority to lay a criminal charge against the officer. Alternatively, in all cases where no reasonable grounds exist, the Director does not lay criminal charges but files a report with the Attorney General communicating the results of an investigation.
Freedom of Information and Protection of Personal Privacy Act (“FIPPA”)
Pursuant to section 14 of FIPPA (i.e., law enforcement), certain information may not be included in this report. This information may include, but is not limited to, the following:
- Confidential investigative techniques and procedures used by law enforcement agencies; and
- Information whose release could reasonably be expected to interfere with a law enforcement matter or an investigation undertaken with a view to a law enforcement proceeding.
Pursuant to section 21 of FIPPA (i.e., personal privacy), protected personal information is not included in this document. This information may include, but is not limited to, the following:
- subject officer name(s)
- witness officer name(s)
- civilian witness name(s)
- location information
- witness statements and evidence gathered in the course of the investigation provided to the SIU in confidence and
- other identifiers which are likely to reveal personal information about individuals involved in the investigation
Personal Health Information Protection Act, 2004 (“PHIPA”)
Pursuant to PHIPA, any information related to the personal health of identifiable individuals is not included.
Other proceedings, processes, and investigations
Information may have also been excluded from this report because its release could undermine the integrity of other proceedings involving the same incident, such as criminal proceedings, coroner’s inquests, other public proceedings and/or other law enforcement investigations.
The Unit’s investigative jurisdiction is limited to those incidents where there is a serious injury (including sexual assault allegations) or death in cases involving the police.
“Serious injuries” shall include those that are likely to interfere with the health or comfort of the victim and are more than merely transient or trifling in nature and will include serious injury resulting from sexual assault. “Serious Injury” shall initially be presumed when the victim is admitted to hospital, suffers a fracture to a limb, rib or vertebrae or to the skull, suffers burns to a major portion of the body or loses any portion of the body or suffers loss of vision or hearing, or alleges sexual assault. Where a prolonged delay is likely before the seriousness of the injury can be assessed, the Unit should be notified so that it can monitor the situation and decide on the extent of its involvement.
This report relates to the SIU’s investigation into the deaths of a 15-year-old male (Complainant #1) and a 16-year-old female (Complainant #2) following a police pursuit on October 5, 2017.
Notification of the SIU
At approximately 10:27 a.m. on October 5, 2017, the Waterloo Regional Police Service (WRPS) notified the SIU of the deaths of 15-year-old Complainant #1 and 16-year-old Complainant #2. The WRPS reported that both Complainants had been the occupants of a stolen Pontiac motor vehicle being pursued from Cambridge by members of the WRPS. The Pontiac went out of control on Highway 6 and slammed into a tractor trailer. Complainant #1 and Complainant #2 were declared dead at the scene.
The WRPS further reported that a citizen had called 911 and reported seeing a man assaulting a woman on King Street East in the City of Cambridge on the morning of October 5, 2017. The man and woman, later identified as Complainant #1 and Complainant #2, entered a red Pontiac and drove off. The civilian followed the Pontiac and continued to update police as to its location. Police intervened shortly thereafter and initiated a vehicle apprehension pursuit. The brief pursuit entered Highway 6 southbound, where the Pontiac veered across lanes and was struck broadside by a northbound tractor trailer.
Number of SIU Investigators assigned: 6
Number of SIU Forensic Investigators assigned: 3
Number of SIU Collision Reconstructionists assigned: 1
On October 5, 2017, six SIU investigators, three SIU forensic investigators (FIs), and a Collision Reconstructionist, attended to the area of Highway 6 in the City of Hamilton to commence an investigation into the fatal collision. The investigation expanded to cover various locations in Waterloo Region.
The scene was photographed extensively, a diagram was prepared, and the crash data was technically examined by the SIU Collision Reconstructionist. The Crash Data Retrieval (CDR) from the Pontiac, as well as the Automatic Vehicle Locator (AVL) data from the police cruisers operated by the two subject officers, was recovered and analyzed.
Civilian witnesses were located and interviewed, and the routes driven by the pursuing police officers and the initial civilian witness were traced and videotaped. Videos from local businesses were obtained on consent and the WRPS communications recordings were analyzed. One civilian witness who had relocated to Nova Scotia, was interviewed by Nova Scotia provincial investigators, on behalf of the SIU.
The SIU Collision Reconstructionist applied his scene data to produce a brief animation of the final seconds of the pursuit and collision. The WRPS policy directive on Suspect Apprehension Pursuits was obtained and reviewed. An SIU investigator was assigned to ensure the families of both Complainants were kept informed and aware of the investigative process throughout the investigation. Both families were also offered the services of the SIU Affected Persons Coordinator.
Complainant #1 15-year-old male, deceased
Complainant #2 16-year-old female, deceased
CW #1 Interviewed
CW #2 Interviewed
CW #3 Interviewed
CW #4 Interviewed
CW #5 Interviewed
CW #6 Interviewed
CW #7 Interviewed
CW #8 Interviewed
CW #9 Interviewed
CW #10 Interviewed
CW #11 Interviewed
CW #12 Interviewed
CW #13 Interviewed
CW #14 Interviewed
CW #15 Interviewed
CW #16 Interviewed
CW #17 Interviewed
CW #18 Interviewed
CW #19 Interviewed
CW #20 Declined to be interviewed
CW #20 did not attend for a scheduled interview and did not respond to telephone calls or text messages.
WO #1 Interviewed, notes received and reviewed
WO #2 Interviewed, notes received and reviewed
WO #3 Interviewed, notes received and reviewed
WO #4 Interviewed, notes received and reviewed
SO #1 Declined interview and to provide notes, as is the subject officer’s legal right, but provided a written statement.
SO #2 Declined interview and to provide notes, as is the subject officer’s legal right
At 9:33 a.m. on October 5, 2017, a 911 caller contacted the WRPS and advised them, “I’m just witnessing a man beating the living daylights out of a young lady.” He went on to indicate that he had just observed a male party, who he described as being approximately 25 years of age, assaulting a female party, who he described as being in her early twenties. He reported that the male then forced the female into a red motor vehicle. The caller advised that he believed the female had been abducted. The caller remained on the line with the 911 dispatcher, as he followed the car, and continued to update the WRPS as to the location of the vehicle. While the caller at some point lost sight of the motor vehicle, it returned and passed him in the opposite direction, at which point the caller informed the 911 operator that the female passenger was seen to be crying. The caller remained on the line for eight minutes, until members of the WRPS arrived at his location.
As a result of the 911 call, WRPS patrol officers were alerted by the dispatcher that a serious criminal offence had been observed and might be ongoing.
The direction of travel and key intersections, as reported by the 911 caller, seemed to be delayed by the dispatcher as the caller was unfamiliar with the area and the directions were confusing, thereby slightly delaying the broadcast information. The police eventually caught up with the 911 caller and observed the red motor vehicle.
The correct licence plate number was then obtained and the vehicle was identified as a red Pontiac which had been reported stolen. At 9:47:47 a.m., SO #1 and SO #2 advised their communications centre that they were engaged in a pursuit with the Pontiac, with SO #1 reporting, “For the safety of the possible victim in the passenger seat being held against her will, we are in pursuit”
WO #2 alerted the OPP and the HPS of the pursuit and tried to arrange for tire deflation devices, but the fatal collision occurred while the police officers from those jurisdictions were still en route. WRPS back-up units were too far from the pursuit to contribute, with SO #1 and SO #2 being the only police officers within range of the speeding Pontiac. The majority of the actual pursuit was on Townline Road to Gore Road, and Gore Road to Highway 6. The route took the pursuit out of congested areas into completely rural areas and ultimately onto the highway.
At approximately 9:55 a.m., Complainant #1, while driving at a high rate of speed southbound on Highway 6 in Flamborough, lost control of the Pontiac, at a speed calculated as being between 123 to 126 km/h, at which point the Pontiac began to rotate and sideslip, leaving distinct tire marks. The Pontiac crossed over the common centre left turn lane and entered the northbound lanes, directly into the path of an oncoming tractor trailer.
The cause of the collision was determined to have been due to a loss of control of the Pontiac primarily due to the excessive speed on a curve, and likely contributed to by the inexperience of the driver. Both the driver of the Pontiac (Complainant #1) and the passenger, (Complainant #2) were immediately killed in the collision.
Cause of death
Post-mortem examinations of both Complainants were conducted on October 6, 2017. The cause of death for both Complainants was determined to be “multiple blunt force injuries due to or as the consequence of motor vehicle collision”.
The collision occurred on Highway 6, approximately 250 metres south of Concession Road 10 West. The road surface was paved asphalt with two lanes for northbound traffic and two lanes for southbound traffic. There was a common centre left turn lane. Gravel shoulders bordered by metal guardrails were on both sides of the highway. This collision occurred on a long gradual curve to a southbound driver’s left. The speed limit was posted at 80 km/h.
A severed portion of the red Pontiac is seen in the foreground, in the area where the initial impact occurred, while the involved tractor trailer is seen where it came to rest on the shoulder in the background.
The route taken by the tractor trailer after striking the red Pontiac is seen by the skid marks on the roadway. Debris from the red Pontiac is seen on the roadway, while the tractor trailer continued forward with the Pontiac pinned under its undercarriage.
The tractor trailer on the right shoulder after it came to rest, with the Pontiac pinned under it.
The AVL Data obtained from the police vehicles operated by the Subject Officers
The WRPS cruisers being operated by SO #1 and SO #2 were each equipped with a GPS receiver. WRPS GPS data was reported about every 5 seconds (with some variance) while the police cruiser was in motion, and every 120 seconds while the police cruiser was stationary.
For the purpose of this report, the analysis was limited to about 87 AVL data points pertaining to the travel of each of the two cruisers from Townline Road just north of Gore Road (also known as North Dumfries Township Road 1 East) in Cambridge, eastbound on Gore Road to Highway 6, and southbound to the collision scene. The following is a summary:
Townline Road north of Gore Road
Both cruisers travelled southbound on Townline Road towards Gore Road. At 9:47:00 a.m., SO #1 was immediately north of Gore Road travelling at 19 km/h. At 9:47:06 a.m., SO #2 was immediately north of Gore Road, six seconds behind SO #1 and travelling at 54 km/h. Both police cruisers turned left onto eastbound Gore Road.
Gore Road between Townline Road and Highway 6
Both police cruisers travelled eastbound on Gore Road to Highway 6. In order to analyze the speed of the two police cruisers along Gore Road, 74 AVL data points from each cruiser were considered, beginning from just east of Townline Road up to just west of Highway 6. The distance along Gore Road was 16.5 kilometres (kms). The police cruisers travelled that distance in seven minutes and 24 seconds. The average speed for the cruisers along Gore Road was therefore approximately 130 km/h.
As the cruisers travelled along Gore road, the maximum speed recorded from SO #1’s cruiser was 148 km/h, and from SO #2’s cruiser was 149 km/h. No speeds less than 100 km/h were recorded from either cruiser as they travelled along Gore Road.
Forensic Identification Services (FIS) route video (speed limit)
As per the summary of the FIS route video, the speed limit on Gore Road was 60 km/h, with numerous signs posted along the route.
FIS route video (Stop sign at Gore Road and Cooper Road)
As per the summary of the FIS route video, one stop sign was noted on Gore Road at Cooper Road. This intersection was a “T” configuration with Gore Road running east/west, and Cooper Road intersecting from the south and ending at Gore Road. There was a stop sign with a painted stop line for eastbound Gore Road, and a stop sign and painted stop line for northbound Cooper Road. There was no stop sign for westbound Gore Road.
SO #1 AVL data points 192 and 193
At 9:49:41 a.m., SO #1 approached the intersection of Cooper Road. At about 100 metres west of the stop line, the cruiser speed for SO #1 was reported by the AVL to be 101 km/h. SO #1 travelled through the intersection. At 9:49:45 a.m., about 35 metres east of the centre of the intersection, the cruiser speed was reported by the AVL to be 115 km/h. The AVL data supports a finding that SO #1 did not stop at the stop sign at Gore Road and Cooper Road.
SO #2 AVL data points 189 and 190
At 9:49:43 a.m., SO #2 approached the intersection of Cooper Road. At about 71 metres west of the stop line, the cruiser speed was reported by the AVL to be 101 km/h. SO #2 travelled through the intersection. At 9:49:46 a.m., about 62 metres east of the centre of the intersection, the cruiser speed was reported by the AVL to be 117 km/h. The AVL data supports a finding that SO #2 did not stop at the stop sign at Gore Road and Cooper Road.
Gore Road just west of Highway 6
At 9:54:39 a.m., SO #1 was on Gore Road at Highway 6, about to turn right to travel southbound on Highway 6. His speed during the right hand turn was recorded as 41 km/h. At 9:54:41 a.m., SO #2 was on Gore Road at Highway 6, about to turn right to travel southbound onto Highway 6. SO #2 was two seconds behind SO #1 and driving at 53 km/h. Both vehicles turned right from eastbound Gore Road to southbound Highway 6.
Highway 6 to the collision scene
The maximum speed recorded from SO #1’s cruiser as it travelled southbound on Highway 6 was 165 km/h. The maximum speed recorded from SO #2’s cruiser as it travelled southbound on Highway 6 was 173 km/h. The speeds for SO #1’s cruiser, from the turn onto Highway 6 (from Gore Road) to the scene, at five second intervals, were recorded as follows: (km/h) 94, 130, 154, 165, 165, 165, 106, 62, 43, and 0.
The speeds recorded for SO #2’s cruiser, within the same parameters, were: 101, 143, 162, 173, 173, 152, 61, 59, 28, and 0.
At 9:55:24 a.m., SO #1 arrived at the collision scene. SO #2 arrived at the collision scene at 9:55:26 a.m. SO #2 arrived at the collision scene about two seconds after SO #1. SO #1 and SO #2 travelled on Highway 6 between Gore Road and the collision scene for 45 seconds.
Pursuit routes of the pursuing police officers
On October 8, 2017, SIU investigators video-recorded the pursuit route of the Pontiac driven by Complainant #1, to the collision site on Highway 6. There were two pursuit routes to record. The first route was the one in which the Pontiac was followed/pursued by a civilian witness, CW #3. The second route was the route of the WRPS police officers.
The WRPS initially identified Complainant #1’s Pontiac on Pinebush Road, east of Hespeler Road, and took up the pursuit. The Pontiac took the following route and was pursued by WRPS for most of this route:
East on Pinebush Road, from the area of Hespeler Road
Pinebush Road was a posted 60 km/h zone with bicycle lanes on both sides. It was primarily an industrial zone. The distance travelled on Pinebush Road was 0.76 km.
South on Franklin Boulevard
Franklin Boulevard was a divided road, with two lanes northbound and two lanes southbound, and was a Cambridge Bus route. It too was an industrial zone and was a posted 60 km/h zone. The boulevard involved three roundabouts with posted pedestrian crossings. The distance travelled on Franklin Boulevard was 2.41 kilometres.
East on Saginaw Parkway
The intersection at Saginaw Parkway was controlled by traffic lights and pedestrian crossings and was a posted 40 km/h zone. Five schools and one park were in the area with posted school zone signs and bicycle lanes on both sides of the road. It was a residential area with single family homes and apartment buildings. Saginaw Parkway met Townline Road at a T-intersection. The distance travelled on Saginaw Parkway was 2.70 kilometres. SO #2 did not travel on Saginaw Parkway. The speeds for SO #1’s cruiser, on Saginaw Parkway between Franklin Boulevard and Townline Road, in ten second increments, were recorded as (in km/h): 12, 48, 67, 62, 69, 72, 40, 70, 69, 56, 69, 74, 75, 54, 78, 35 and 65. There were “All Way” stop signs at the following seven intersecting streets: Cowan Boulevard, Stonecairn Drive, Chamberlain Drive, Burnett Avenue, Light Drive, Chipcase Court, and Glen Valley Drive.
South on Townline Road
Townline Road was a posted 60 km/h zone. It was a straight road with two lanes in each direction and bicycle lanes on both sides of the street. Townline Road was in a rural area with a few homes on each side of the street. It met Gore Road at a T-intersection. The distance travelled on Townline Road was 1.05 kilometres.
East on Gore Road (also known as North Dumfries Township Road 1 East)
Gore Road was a posted 60 km/h zone, with numerous signs indicating the speed limit. It was a straight road with two lanes in each direction. The road condition was generally fair but with some areas in poor condition, including pot holes. Gore Road traversed rolling hills and went through a rural area with a few homes or farms on each side of the road. Warning signs of hidden driveways or intersections were prevalent. There was just one stop sign on the road, where Gore Road meets Highway 6 at a T-intersection. The distance travelled on Gore Road was 16.77 kilometres. SO #1’s cruiser speeds, at 30 second intervals, on Gore Road from Townline Road to Highway 6, were recorded as follows (in km/h): 69, 123, 122, 140, 141, 125, 141, 143, 131, 138, 148, 139, 141, 138 and 74.
Similarly, the speeds for SO #2’s cruiser were recorded as (in km/h): 54, 131, 125, 141, 141, 101, 135, 141, 117, 143, 136, 136, 143, 120 and 55.
South on Highway 6
Highway 6 was a posted 80 km/h zone. It was configured with five lanes, two northbound lanes, two southbound lanes, and one centre lane for turning. The total distance to the collision scene on Highway 6 was 1.47 kilometres. The entire distance travelled by Complainant #1’s Pontiac, after being located by the WRPS, was 25.16 km.
The speeds of SO #1’s cruiser on Highway 6, from Gore Road to the scene, at ten second intervals, were recorded as follows (in km/h): 94, 154, 165, 106, 43 and 0. The speeds of SO #2’s cruiser, on the same stretch of Highway 6, were recorded as follows (in km/h): 101, 162, 173, 61, 28 and 0.
CPIC Off-Line Search
An off-line CPIC search was undertaken by the SIU to determine whether any WRPS police officer accessed the name of Complainant #1, or the plate number for the stolen Pontiac, during the material times on October 5, 2017; no such queries were located.
The toxicology reports for both Complainants was received by the SIU on March 2, 2018. The analysis determined that no so-called street drugs, or alcohol, were detected in the systems of either Complainant.
Reconstruction Report Summary
Airbag Control Module (ACM)
At 9:27 a.m. on October 10, 2017, the ACM of the Pontiac was imaged. The CDR (Crash Data Retrieval) system indicated that, despite the deployment of the air bags in the Pontiac, no event was recovered. As a result, no data pertaining to the deployment of the air bags, including the speed of the vehicle at and immediately prior to the collision, was available.
It would appear that the collision was so explosive and destructive that the electrical system of the vehicle was compromised extremely quickly. There was only enough reserve energy in the module to deploy the air bags and not enough to capture and record the event.
Pontiac Speed at Impact
The calculated speed of the Pontiac was approximately 83 km/h when the collision occurred.
On October 5, 2017, at approximately 9:55 a.m., the Pontiac was travelling at a high rate of speed southbound on Highway 6 in Flamborough. At the same time, CW #1 was operating a fully loaded tractor trailer travelling northbound. Complainant #1 lost control of the Pontiac at a speed of between 123 to 126 km/h, at which point the Pontiac began to rotate and sideslip, leaving distinct tire marks. The Pontiac crossed over the common centre left turn lane and entered the northbound lanes, directly into the path of the tractor trailer being driven by CW #1.
Ministry of Finance Examinations
An Alcatel cellular phone and an iPhone were delivered to the Ministry of Finance for the purpose of reclaiming text messages sent by Complainant #2 to various recipients. Due to the utter destruction of the devices, no evidence could be recovered.
Post-mortem examinations were conducted on October 6, 2017. The cause of death for both Complainants was determined to be “multiple blunt force injuries due to or as the consequence of motor vehicle collision”.
(Retrieved from Tommy’s Pizza and Wings at 1203 King Street East, Cambridge, depicting incident involving Complainant #1 and Complainant #2 on October 5, 2018)
At 9:07:25 a.m. on October 5, 2018, the stolen Pontiac driven by Complainant #1, with Complainant #2 as passenger, arrived at the rear of 1203 King Street East in the City of Cambridge. The address belonged to the business known as Tommy’s Pizza and Wings and the surveillance equipment that captured the encounter was owned by that establishment.
The vehicle was parked and the occupants remained inside for the next 22 minutes and four seconds, at which time Complainant #1 got out of the driver’s side door and walked around the rear of the vehicle, opened the passenger door, and leaned fully inside. Within a few seconds, Complainant #2 got out of the front seat, either on her own or with assistance from Complainant #1.
They struggled for a few moments and Complainant #2 then sat back in the front seat, with Complainant #1 still outside by the passenger door. They tussled aggressively for a few seconds and then seemed to calm down and Complainant #1 leaned against the front passenger door. Complainant #2 then picked up what looked like a knapsack, or other baggage, and walked to the open trunk with Complainant #1, then returned to the passenger side with the knapsack in hand.
At that point Complainant #1 walked to the driver door, while Complainant #2 went to the passenger side and appeared to be trying to open the door. Complainant #1 suddenly returned to the passenger door and leaned against it, blocking entry to that side of the vehicle. Complainant #2 then dropped the knapsack to the ground and seemed to be in conversation with Complainant #1, who was leaning against the passenger door. Complainant #2 was a few feet in front of Complainant #1.
Complainant #2 approached Complainant #1 and appeared to put her arms around him, but Complainant #1 pushed Complainant #2 away, but not forcibly so. Complainant #2 again approached Complainant #1, but he again resisted her attempt to touch him. Seconds later, Complainant #2 moved forward and hugged Complainant #1, who at that time accepted the embrace for a brief moment, after which he pushed her away.
Complainant #1 then opened the passenger door and Complainant #2 entered the vehicle leaving her knapsack outside. Complainant #1 moved the knapsack away from the vehicle a few feet. Complainant #2 got out of the vehicle and removed clothing from the knapsack. The pair then appeared to struggle briefly and Complainant #1 leaned against the passenger door with Complainant #2 directly in front of him.
Complainant #2 suddenly ran around the front of the vehicle to the driver’s door, with Complainant #1 in pursuit. Complainant #1 caught up to Complainant #2 and violently threw her away from the vehicle. He then appeared to wrench an unknown object from her hand. Complainant #2 then went to the trunk area. The pair remained at the trunk of the vehicle for the better part of one minute, until Complainant #2 placed an object into the trunk and ran to the driver’s door with Complainant #1 right behind her.
Complainant #2 managed to enter the vehicle by way of the driver’s door and Complainant #1 forcibly pulled her out, but only after a struggle to do so. Complainant #2 was pushed to the ground and somehow re-entered the vehicle through the driver’s door. Complainant #1 then entered the vehicle and closed the driver’s door.
The trunk was still open and Complainant #2 leaned out of the passenger door and retrieved the clothing that lay nearby. She then left the vehicle, grabbed additional belongings, and re-entered the vehicle for the final time. The vehicle then left the scene at 9:39:38 a.m., 32 minutes after its arrival. The collision on Highway 6 occurred 16 minutes later.
The 911 Call from CW #3
At 9:33 a.m., CW #3 contacted the WRPS dispatcher and reported that he was witnessing an active assault of a young woman by a man who he described as being 25 years of age. CW #3 further reported that the woman may have been abducted. CW #3 stated that the woman had been forced into a red vehicle which he described as a red Toyota. CW #3 remained on air with the dispatcher once the red vehicle [now known to be a Pontiac] moved into traffic. CW #3 reported the direction of travel for the red vehicle for the following eight minutes, until police caught up to him and took over.
Police Transmissions Communications Recording
At 9:41 a.m. on October 5, 2018, the first WRPS cruiser, driven by SO #1, caught up to the Pontiac driven by Complainant #1. Prior to that time the Pontiac was being followed by CW #3, who had maintained contact with the WRPS dispatcher. SO #1 notified the dispatcher that he was in a pursuit at 9:47:46 a.m. The collision occurred at 9:55:27 a.m. The pursuit lasted seven minutes and 41 seconds. The subject officers were aware of the information supplied to the dispatcher by CW #3. The following are the taped conversations beginning at 9:44 a.m. (Any information tending to identify the subject officers or the Complainants has been edited out. Where the officer speaking could not be positively identified as being SO #1 or SO #2, the speaker is simply identified as Male radio.):
SO #1: … to headquarters. Sorry, and this was first – start of the call, the female was dragged back into the vehicle and then assaulted her?
Dispatch: There’s not much information about that. All the call says is he dragged her out of the car.
SO #1: Okay.
Dispatch: And caller initially said there’s a male beating a young lady.
SO #1: Okay. 10-4.
SO #2: If it is the vehicle, (SO #1), I’m right behind you.
Male radio: Yeah. There last three – it’ll be left.
SO #1: We’re heading out Gore Road, HQ.
Male radio: Yeah, 10-4.
Dispatch: 10-4. Gore Road.
SO #1: … come up here. Just for the female’s safety, we’ll try the rolling block.
Male radio: 10-4 (inaudible).
SO #2: I’m right behind you.
SO #1: Yeah. … for the safety of the possible victim in the passenger seat (inaudible) we are in pursuit.
Dispatch: 10-4. Confirmed, in pursuit.
SO #1: On Gore Road. Speeds approximately 110.
Dispatch: 10-4. On Gore Road – Gore Road speeds 110.
SO #1: No other traffic.
Dispatch: 10-4. No other traffic.
Male radio: Speeds 120. Still no traffic.
Dispatch: Speeds 120, no traffic.
Male radio: … when there’s a good spot without any hills, I’ll try to pass.
Male radio: Roger.
SO #1: Let OPP and Hamilton know, headquarters, if it hasn’t been done.
SO #1: On Gore Road past Village.
Dispatch: On Gore passing Village.
SO #1: If you can advise Guelph as well, if you haven’t.
SO #1: Speeds 130, still no traffic. (Note: AVL data indicates actual speed was 138 km/h at 9:48:55 am and 141 km/h at 9:49:05 am)
Dispatch: 10-4. Speeds 130, no traffic.
Male radio: (inaudible)
SO #1: Through a stop sign at Cooper, continuing on.
Dispatch: Through the stop sign, continuing on. 10-4.
Male radio: Speeds consistent at 130, no traffic.
Dispatch: 10-4. Speeds consistent at 130, no traffic.
Dispatch: Other units on this, per GPS, they’re just passing Wellington Road 35.
Dispatch: …, 10-4.
SO #1: …, 10-4, headquarters. Past Forman Road.
Dispatch: 10-4. Passing Foreman Road.
Male radio: Giving him a (inaudible) distance, he’s still in our future.
Male radio: Will this bring us out on Highway 6, headquarters?
Dispatch: Give me one second to check.
Male radio: 10-4, …
Male radio: 10-4.
Dispatch: It dead-ends there.
Male radio: 10-4.
SO #1: Still in our future, continuing on, speeds are 130, still no traffic. (Note: AVL data indicates speed at 9:51:50 am as 136 km/h)
Dispatch: 10-4. Speeds 130, no traffic.
Male radio: Through Valens Road.
Dispatch: 10-4. Passing Valens Road.
Dispatch: We’re on the line with Hamilton, keeping them updated to your location.
Male radio: 10-4. Thank you.
Male radio: Through Concession 7.
Dispatch: 10-4. Through Concession 7.
Male radio: Speeds 135. (Note: AVL data for SO#1’s police vehicle indicates speed of 136 km/h)
Dispatch: Speeds 135.
Dispatch: Once you pass Fielding Lane you’re almost at the dead-end.
Male radio: 10-4. Thank you.
Male radio: 10-4, HQ. Can you put me on that?
SO #1: Speeds 130, still continuing on. (Note: The AVL data indicates speed for SO #1 was 131 km/h.)
Dispatch: 10-4. Speeds 130. That’s the last road you’re gonna’ pass, Maddaugh, and dead-ends now.
Male radio: Yeah. Coming up to that stop sign now.
Male radio: Try to box him in (inaudible) …
Dispatch: Hamilton has a unit on the way.
Male radio: 10-4. We’re just turned right onto Highway 6 just passing Campbellville Road.
Dispatch: Right onto Highway 6, passing Campbellville Road.
Male radio: We got two lanes here, (SO #1). We can do the rolling block.
Male radio: Yeah. I’m gonna’ push him now.
Dispatch: Rolling block.
Male radio: Traffic – traffic is very light, headquarters.
Dispatch: 10-4. Traffic very light.
Male radio: 9-51 (collision). Headquarters. 9-51.
Dispatch: 10-4. At 9-51. Subject vehicle?
Male radio: It was a transport truck, it was a head-on
Materials obtained from Police Service
Upon request, the SIU obtained and reviewed the following materials and documents from the WRPS:
- Recording of 911 call from CW #3
- Recording of Police Transmissions to Communications Centre
- AVL data from both subject police vehicles
- Duty Roster
- Event Details Report
- GPS Data Table (October 5, 2017)
- GPS Data Table for Cruiser operated by SO #1
- GPS Data Table for Cruiser operated by SO #2
- Notes of WO #s 1-4
- WRPS Procedure: Suspect Apprehension Pursuit
- Written Statement of SO #1
- WRPS Training Material, and
- A Crime Alert flyer (BOLO) referencing the stolen Pontiac and its likely occupants
The SIU obtained and reviewed the following materials and documents from other sources:
- Audio taped interview of CW #9 from Nova Scotia Provincial Investigators
- Post-Mortem Reports for both Complainants
- Toxicology Reports from CFS for both Complainants
- Report of Identification of Complainant #2 from dental records
- Photos of Collision Scene taken by bystander
- Written Statement from CW #2
- Report from MOF of examination of Complainant #2’s cell phone
- CCTV video from Tommy’s Pizza and Wings, 1203 King Street East, Cambridge, and
- Crash Data Retrieval Report from the Pontiac motor vehicle
Sections 1-3, Ontario Regulation 266/10, Ontario Police Services Act – Suspect Apprehension Pursuits
1. (1) For the purposes of this Regulation, a suspect apprehension pursuit occurs when a police officer attempts to direct the driver of a motor vehicle to stop, the driver refuses to obey the officer and the officer pursues in a motor vehicle for the purpose of stopping the fleeing motor vehicle or identifying the fleeing motor vehicle or an individual in the fleeing motor vehicle.
(2) A suspect apprehension pursuit is discontinued when police officers are no longer pursuing a fleeing motor vehicle for the purpose of stopping the fleeing motor vehicle or identifying the fleeing motor vehicle or an individual in the fleeing motor vehicle.
2. (1) A police officer may pursue, or continue to pursue, a fleeing motor vehicle that fails to stop,
- if the police officer has reason to believe that a criminal offence has been committed or is about to be committed; or
- for the purposes of motor vehicle identification or the identification of an individual in the vehicle.
(2) Before initiating a suspect apprehension pursuit, a police officer shall determine that there are no alternatives available as set out in the written procedures of,
- the police force of the officer established under subsection 6 (1), if the officer is a member of an Ontario police force as defined in the Interprovincial Policing Act, 2009;
- a police force whose local commander was notified of the appointment of the officer under subsection 6 (1) of the Interprovincial Policing Act, 2009, if the officer was appointed under Part II of that Act; or
- (c) the local police force of the local commander who appointed the officer under subsection 15 (1) of the Interprovincial Policing Act, 2009, if the officer was appointed under Part III of that Act.
(3) A police officer shall, before initiating a suspect apprehension pursuit, determine whether in order to protect public safety the immediate need to apprehend an individual in the fleeing motor vehicle or the need to identify the fleeing motor vehicle or an individual in the fleeing motor vehicle outweighs the risk to public safety that may result from the pursuit.
(4) During a suspect apprehension pursuit, a police officer shall continually reassess the determination made under subsection (3) and shall discontinue the pursuit when the risk to public safety that may result from the pursuit outweighs the risk to public safety that may result if an individual in the fleeing motor vehicle is not immediately apprehended or if the fleeing motor vehicle or an individual in the fleeing motor vehicle is not identified.
(5) No police officer shall initiate a suspect apprehension pursuit for a non-criminal offence if the identity of an individual in the fleeing motor vehicle is known.
(6) A police officer engaging in a suspect apprehension pursuit for a non-criminal offence shall discontinue the pursuit once the fleeing motor vehicle or an individual in the fleeing motor vehicle is identified.
3. (1) A police officer shall notify a dispatcher when the officer initiates a suspect apprehension pursuit.
(2) The dispatcher shall notify a communications supervisor or road supervisor, if a supervisor is available, that a suspect apprehension pursuit has been initiated
Sections 219 and 220, Criminal Code - Criminal negligence Causing Death
219 (1) Every one is criminally negligent who
- in doing anything, or
- in omitting to do anything that it is his duty to do,
shows wanton or reckless disregard for the lives or safety of other persons.
(2) For the purposes of this section, duty means a duty imposed by law.
220 Every person who by criminal negligence causes death to another person is guilty of an indictable offence and liable
- where a firearm is used in the commission of the offence, to imprisonment for life and to a minimum punishment of imprisonment for a term of four years; and
- in any other case, to imprisonment for life.
Section 249, Criminal Code - Dangerous operation of motor vehicles causing death
249 (1) Every one commits an offence who operates
- a motor vehicle in a manner that is dangerous to the public, having regard to all the circumstances, including the nature, condition and use of the place at which the motor vehicle is being operated and the amount of traffic that at the time is or might reasonably be expected to be at that place…
(4) Every one who commits an offence under subsection (1) and thereby causes the death of any other person is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding fourteen years.
Analysis and Director’s decision
On October 5, 2017, at 10:27 a.m., the Waterloo Regional Police Service (WRPS) notified the SIU of the deaths of 15-year-old Complainant #1 and 16-year-old Complainant #2. Both were occupants of a stolen vehicle being pursued from Cambridge by WRPS constables. There were two vehicles involved in this collision, a transport truck with a fully loaded trailer, and a stolen red Pontiac (Pontiac). Tire marks on the southbound lanes of Highway 6 indicated that the Pontiac crossed the centre lane and slid directly into the path of the transport truck. The transport truck was proceeding northbound in the northbound lanes. After the collision, the truck came to rest along the west shoulder of Highway 6
At approximately 10:10 a.m. on October 5, 2017, CW #14 saw a cellphone text from her daughter, Complainant #2, which had been sent at approximately 9:50 a.m. The text message stated, “I’m so sorry for everything, we stole a car and we’re in a high speed chase.” CW #14 sent a text message to her daughter in return, but received no reply. Complainant #2 had previously informed CW #14 that she had started a relationship with Complainant #1.
The incident that led to the subsequent police pursuit and the eventual collision began on King Street East in Cambridge. A detailed analysis of the incident in Cambridge was available to the SIU by video recording and witness testimony. I would conclude from that analysis that the information provided to the police through a 911 call led to a police response based on the impression that the ‘interaction’ between Complainant #2 and Complainant #1 involved a violent assault and potential kidnapping of Complainant #2. The surveillance video retrieved from Tommy’s Pizza and Wings definitively captures the interactions of Complainant #1 and Complainant #2 from 9:07:25 a.m. until 9:39:38 a.m. on October 5, 2017.
On October 5, 2017 at 9:33 a.m., CW #3, a civilian witness, contacted the WRPS dispatcher and reported seeing Complainant #1 assaulting and arguing with Complainant #2 beside a small red car
CW #3 then followed the Pontiac and constantly updated the 911 operator on the route that the Pontiac was taking. He also relayed the licence plate number of the Pontiac. As Complainant #1 started to increase his speed, CW #3 was not able to keep up with the Pontiac; he was, however, able to keep it in sight. CW #3 informed the 911 operator that he witnessed a WRPS marked police cruiser with lights and sirens activated turning left from a side street which resulted in the cruiser being in front of, and travelling away from, the Pontiac.
The marked police cruiser then made a U-turn and began following the Pontiac. CW #3 approached a cross street at Franklin Boulevard, where he witnessed Complainant #1 complete a right hand turn. Within seconds, at least three WRPS marked police cruisers with lights and sirens activated, passed CW #3, who observed the cruisers to be about a block behind the Pontiac and catching up.
On October 5, 2017, at about 9:30 a.m., CW #4 was driving eastbound on Pinebush Road heading towards Franklin Boulevard and was travelling at 80 km/h in the right curb lane. He witnessed Complainant #1 pass him in the centre lane at a speed of approximately 120 km/h or faster. About 50 feet behind the Pontiac, CW #4 saw one WRPS marked police cruiser with its emergency lighting and siren activated.
At about 9:30 a.m., another witness, CW #7, was a passenger in a taxi cab headed towards a strip mall at Pinebush Road and Franklin Boulevard when he heard sirens. CW #7 witnessed Complainant #1 drive through the plaza parking lot at between 25 to 30 km/h and turn onto Franklin Boulevard. Complainant #1 was being followed by a marked WRPS cruiser with its emergency lighting and siren activated. The marked police cruiser being driven by SO #1 was estimated by CW #7 to be between 300 to 400 feet, and approximately four seconds, behind the Pontiac. At approximately 9:46 a.m., CW #7 contacted the WRPS dispatcher and indicated that he saw additional WRPS marked police cruisers about 20 seconds behind the first WRPS marked police cruiser proceeding down Franklin Boulevard
At approximately 10:00 a.m.on the same day, CW #16 and his wife were travelling west towards an address on Gore Road in Puslinch. As CW #16 neared his destination, he saw a small red vehicle driven by Complainant #1 crest the hill and approach from the opposite direction at a speed that CW #16 estimated to be at least 100 km/h. CW #16 observed that Complainant #1 was very focussed while driving the vehicle. About two to three seconds later, CW #16 heard a siren and saw two marked police cruisers, within a car length of each other, crest the hill with their emergency lights activated. CW #16 noted that both WRPS marked police cruisers were not directly behind Complainant #1.
On Thursday, October 5, 2017, between 9:40 and 9:45 a.m., CW #17 was exiting a driveway on Gore Road. He stopped and checked both lanes of traffic as there was a crest in the road to the west. He saw a Pontiac [driven by Complainant #1] travelling eastbound on Gore Road towards him at a high speed. When the Pontiac passed, he observed a young man estimated to be about 18 years old who he described as looking scared. CW #17 estimated that Complainant #1 was travelling about 130 to 140 km/h and looking west in the distance on Gore Road. He also witnessed two WRPS marked police cruisers following the Pontiac with their emergency lights and sirens activated. CW #17 estimated that the WRPS marked police cruisers were between three to four minutes behind Complainant #1
CW #6 was southbound in the curb lane on Highway 6 when suddenly he heard a loud noise to his left and, looking to his left, he witnessed a small red Pontiac pass him as it drifted in a southbound direction. At that point the Pontiac was perpendicular to the southbound lane, the front of the vehicle moving toward the northbound lanes. CW #6 heard a distinct noise related to the fact that the wheels of the Pontiac were not catching the pavement. CW #6 observed the following sequence of events: the Pontiac passed directly in front of his vehicle; Complainant #1 tried to correct the path of the vehicle; the Pontiac fishtailed in a southwest direction, across both southbound lanes; Complainant #1 over-reacted, travelled further east, corrected, and then travelled southeast at “full speed,” across the path of a northbound white tractor-trailer. CW #6 heard the tires of the Pontiac squeal as Complainant #1 attempted to regain control of the vehicle. CW #6 believed that the tractor-trailer was in the northbound curb lane and that the location of the impact was directly left of CW #6. CW #6 continued southbound, applied his brakes, and observed two marked police cruisers travelling southbound and descending on a slight grade on Highway 6 coming around a bend in the road with their emergency lights activated. It was the opinion of CW #6 that the police cruisers were not matching the speed of Complainant #1’s vehicle and that the police cruisers were three to four seconds behind the impact location.
CW #19 also witnessed part of the collision. He was driving southbound on Highway 6 on the morning of October 5, 2017, when he heard a very loud bang behind him. In sequence, CW #6 heard the bang from the collision, then saw the debris as well as the car parts, and, about two seconds behind the collision, he saw the flashing emergency lighting of two WRPS marked police cruisers.
CW #8 was driving with his colleague, CW #9, seated in the front passenger seat and they also observed the collision. CW #8 was driving southbound, at about 80 to 85 km/h, on Highway 6 in the centre lane, when he indicated that a red Pontiac “screamed by me.” CW #9 observed two occupants in the Pontiac. CW #8 estimated that the speed of the Pontiac was 140 to 150 km/h. CW #9 indicated that Complainant #1, when he drove by them, “threaded the needle” beside several vehicles at a speed of 100 to 120 km/h and somehow managed not to hit them. CW #9 observed that the right wheel of the Pontiac made contact with the gravel portion of the right hand shoulder of Highway 6, and it was at that point that Complainant #1 began to lose control.
At that location, Highway 6 bent to the left and CW #8 witnessed the following scenario: Complainant #1 was attempting to bring the vehicle back into the centre lane; he was trying to correct the fishtailing that had begun; the Pontiac almost went to the far right shoulder; the driver attempted a second time to correct the Pontiac; and, Complainant #1 completely lost control of the vehicle which careened across both southbound lanes directly into the path of a northbound transport truck. It was the opinion of CW #8 that Complainant #1 dramatically overcorrected and the Pontiac ended up facing east on a north/south roadway. From about 100 yards away, both CW #8 and CW #9 witnessed the transport truck impact directly on the middle of the passenger side of the Pontiac. After the Pontiac collided with the transport truck, it disintegrated and a red plastic bumper cover flew down the highway. CW #8 pulled over to the right side of the road, observed that the transport truck had stopped northbound on Highway 6, and noticed that white smoke was emanating from the front of the truck. CW #8 estimated that the transport truck took about 250 metres to come to a stop, with the red Pontiac stuck primarily to its grill. About 30 seconds post impact, CW #8 first noticed two WRPS marked police cruisers arrive at the scene with their emergency lights and sirens activated.
CW #2 was also present at the scene of the collision. He had been stopped with his vehicle in the northbound turning lane on Highway 6, with his left turn signal activated, for one to one and a half minutes, waiting to turn left into a driveway. While waiting to turn, CW #2 noticed a marked police cruiser in the inside southbound lane, with its siren and emergency lights activated, pursuing the Pontiac. CW #2 observed Complainant #1 change lanes rapidly from the southbound passing lane, to the curb lane, and back into the passing lane. CW #2 then saw Complainant #1 swerve and estimated the speed of the Pontiac to be in excess of 120 km/h. At that instant, the Pontiac passed CW #2 and CW #2 moved from the passing lane to the curb lane. CW #2 observed that Complainant #1 was driving from lane to lane, maneuvering to get around other southbound vehicles. CW #2 estimated that the two WRPS marked police cruisers were ten to 15 vehicle lengths behind the Pontiac and that that the distance rapidly expanded to 20 to 30 vehicle lengths, as the slower southbound traffic blocked the WRPS marked police cruisers. CW #2 noted that both marked police cruisers had their emergency lights and sirens activated and that there were approximately three vehicle lengths between them. CW #2 estimated the speed of the marked police cruisers to be less than 80 km/h. At that moment, CW #2 heard a loud bang. He looked in his rear view mirror and saw steam and smoke emanating from a transport truck and noticed that traffic was stopping. To his credit, CW #2 exited his vehicle, ran to the assistance of CW #1, the transport truck driver, opened the truck door, and inquired about the well-being of CW #1. CW #2 noted that marked police cruisers were three to four seconds behind the impact location. CW #2 saw what he believed to be the Pontiac crushed under the front of the truck’s grill and observed that the truck had travelled a significant distance after the impact.
CW #1, the driver of the transport truck involved in the collision, was driving his tractor with a 50 foot hopper bottom grain trailer, carrying 41, 500 kilograms of wheat, with a total truck and trailer weight of 59, 000 kilograms. He estimated that sometime between 10:00 and 10:30 a.m. he was on Highway 6, with light traffic, travelling northbound near Freelton Corners. The first time that CW #1 saw the red Pontiac, it was about 50 metres away and he did not have enough time to judge its speed. CW #1 was travelling in the curb lane when he witnessed the Pontiac lose control and cross the yellow line. CW #1 was not certain whether the Pontiac slid sideways, or simply drove straight in front of his truck. CW #1 did not have time to brake and stated that the Pontiac “just appeared.” The Pontiac slid sideways into the front of his truck, with the truck directly hitting the passenger door of the Pontiac, straight on mid- bumper. CW #1 indicated that he was driving between 80 to 90 km/h and he did not see any police cruisers behind the Pontiac at the time of impact. Post impact, CW #1 applied the brakes and skidded for what he believed was about 500 to 700 feet. He was finally able to stop the truck. He was in shock and was covered in glass and debris. CW #1 heard sirens for the first time and estimated that he heard them about 30 seconds post impact. CW #1 did not see any police cruisers initially travelling southbound on Highway 6. CW #1 was still sitting in the cab when a uniformed police officer approached him. Ultimately, smoke began to appear from the transport truck’s engine, and a WRPS police officer asked CW #1 to get out of the truck.
On the date in question, WO #3 was working in the WRPS communications bureau. At about 9:30 a.m., WO #3 heard a priority call and immediately focussed on what was being said as it involved a man beating up and dragging a young woman out of what initially was believed to be a red Toyota.
Multiple WRPS police cruisers responded to the area in an effort to locate the vehicle, but because the relayed information was confused, it resulted in missed opportunities to find and stop the vehicle that CW #3 was following. CW #3 communicated that he was beside the vehicle at Eagle Street and Hespeler Road and that Complainant #2, in the passenger seat, was crying.
At that point, WO #3 believed that he had a definitive location for the motor vehicle, that a continuing criminal offence was occurring, and that SO #1 had located the subject vehicle in the area of the Tim Hortons at Franklin Avenue and Pinebush Road at 9:41 a.m. While SO #1 attempted, without success, to stop the vehicle, he obtained the correct licence plate and was informed by the police dispatcher that the Pontiac was a stolen vehicle. WO #3 heard SO #1 indicate to the police dispatcher that he was strategically following the Pontiac and that he was not in pursuit.
WO #3 alerted WO #2 as to the details of the incident. WO #3 was informed that a second WRPS marked police cruiser, being driven by SO #2, was following SO #1. SO #1 continued to follow the Pontiac but ultimately lost sight of the vehicle at Saginaw Boulevard and Townline Road.
Subsequently, SO #1 advised that he had located and was following the Pontiac. SO #1 asked the dispatcher to confirm CW #3’s observations of the behaviour of Complainant #1 towards Complainant #2. SO #1 was informed by the dispatcher that CW #3 had reported that he observed that Complainant #1 had committed an assault on Complainant #2. WO #3 further recalled the following comment from CW #3: “He let her have it.”
SO #1 broadcast that he was now in pursuit for the safety of the woman inside the vehicle, based on the criminal offence that had been described by CW #3. WO #3 monitored the dispatcher to ask pertinent questions of SO #1 in relation to the Suspect Apprehension Pursuit (SAP) procedure, and started to gather information about the nature of the pursuit. SO #1 related at multiple intervals that traffic varied from quite light to no traffic at all, and that his speed was between 110 to 130 km/h. WO #3 noted there was an absence of any extreme driving behaviour by the driver of the Pontiac, that there were light traffic conditions, and that the speed that the Pontiac was travelling (between 110 and 130 km/h) was not extreme. Realizing that his police officers were in a pursuit, WO #3 began thinking of methods to end the pursuit. At 9:49 a.m., WO #3 wrote on the call log that stop sticks
On the day of the collision, WO #4 was working the day shift in a marked Ford Taurus police cruiser. The dispatcher relayed that the vehicle [the Pontiac] involved in the disturbance on Duke Street was now on Eagle Street heading eastbound. WO #4 heard SO #1 broadcast that he was following the suspect vehicle by the Tim Hortons at Pinebush Road and Franklin Boulevard and that the driver did not stop. WO #4 drove southbound on Franklin Boulevard to assist SO #1. WO #4 heard SO #1 broadcast that he was turning onto Saginaw Parkway, and subsequently indicate that he was reducing his speed and falling back because of the school areas on Saginaw Parkway. WO #4 heard SO #1 say that he had spotted the Pontiac on Townline Road heading toward Gore Road. WO #4 heard SO #1 indicate he was eastbound on Gore Road and heard him providing speed, conditions, and upcoming cross roads. WO #4 was driving between 120 to 130 km/h and observed six vehicles travelling on Gore Road, one eastbound and five westbound, as he drove to Highway 6. WO #4 heard SO #1 and SO #2 comment about possibly executing a rolling block, which is a termination method for a vehicle pursuit.
WO #2 was working as the acting staff sergeant on October 5, 2017, at the south station, as the watch commander responsible for the running of the station and the platoon. At 9:33 a.m., WO #2 was in his office listening to the radio, when he heard a radio call that an ongoing incident might involve the abduction of a young woman. WO #3 informed WO #2 that he was attempting to deploy a stop stick as the Pontiac was heading toward the OPP and the HPS. WO #2 alerted the OPP and the HPS that a SAP was in progress. As it was possible that the SAP could potentially travel outside the jurisdiction of the WRPS, WO #2 requested, without success, that tire deflation devices be deployed. The vehicle was pursued onto Highway 6, and SO #1 was broadcasting his speed, his location, and additional observations. While monitoring the radio, WO #2 heard SO #1 utter the comment, “He’s in my future”; a term which means, “He’s well ahead in the distance.” WO #2 was concerned that his police officers were travelling at speeds of up to 130 km/h, but he was also convinced that an abduction, with a young woman in the car, was continuing. WO #2 concluded that his first concern was the safety of Complainant #2, which overrode his concern for the actual pursuit which was continuing; secondly, he believed that the conditions were safe to continue the pursuit.
SO #1 provided a written statement to the SIU in which he indicated that he was pursuing the red Pontiac, and, as it neared the end of Gore Road, the police dispatcher provided information that they were at the final concession before the road ended at Highway 6. SO #1 broadcast to SO #2 that if the opportunity presented itself, at the end of Gore Road, an attempt would be made to box in the Pontiac in order to terminate the pursuit. Unfortunately, the opportunity did not present itself, as the Pontiac turned right onto Highway 6, heading southbound. SO #1 and SO #2 continued the pursuit onto Highway 6, where SO #1 observed that: the traffic appeared to be light; it was a four lane highway with a centre turning lane; and, it was a flat highway with clear sightlines. SO #1 indicated that he had previously given the subject vehicle time and distance during the pursuit. SO #1 broadcast to SO #2 that it was time that both police cruisers should ‘push up,’ in an attempt to minimize their distance from the subject vehicle, in order to attempt a rolling block. At that time, both cruisers increased their speed, but, shortly after making that decision, the collision occurred.
The issue to be determined is whether the driving conduct of SO #1 and SO #2 give me reasonable grounds to believe that they committed a criminal offence; specifically whether or not their driving rose to the level of dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing death in contravention of s. 249 (4) of the Criminal Code, or whether their driving was criminally negligent showing a “wanton and reckless disregard for the lives or safety of other persons,” contrary to s. 219 of the Criminal Code, and did thereby cause death, contrary to s. 220 (b).
As stated by the Supreme Court of Canada in the case of R. v. Beatty  1 S.C.R. 49, s. 249 requires that in order for the offence of dangerous driving to be made out, the driving must be dangerous to the public having regard to all the circumstances, “including the nature, condition, and use of the place at which the motor vehicle is being operated and the amount of traffic that, at the time, is or might reasonably be expected to be at that place” and the driving must be such that it amounts to “a marked departure from the standard of care that a reasonable person would observe in the accused’s circumstances.” In R. v. Sharpe (1984) 12 C.C.C. (3d) 426, the Ontario Court of Appeal held that the offence of criminal negligence under s. 219 requires “a marked and substantial departure from the standard of a reasonable driver in circumstances” where the accused “showed a reckless disregard for the lives and safety of others.”
Moreover, in deciding whether the driving was dangerous or criminally negligent in the circumstances, the first thing I must consider is whether the type of pursuit described throughout my decision was justified in the circumstances, keeping in mind that a SAP is the choice of last resort, and is only to be considered when other alternatives are unavailable or unsatisfactory. Secondly, if the officers were justified in conducting the pursuit, did they comply with the WRPS SAP policy, which indicates that in any SAP, the paramount consideration in initiating, continuing, or discontinuing, a SAP is public and officer safety?
Two civilian witnesses, CW #3 and CW #11, were at the rear of Tommy’s Pizza and Wings at 1203 King Street East in Cambridge. CW #3, as a result of his observations, sincerely believed that Complainant #1 was assaulting, and was in the process of abducting, Complainant #2.
CW #11 witnessed Complainant #1 and Complainant #2 appear to be arguing and tussling, and her belief was that Complainant #1 appeared to be trying to coax, without success, Complainant #2 to exit the Pontiac. She did not think the situation warranted calling the police.
Thus, only CW #3 called the police dispatcher and outlined his observations and concern. There is no doubt in my mind that the description of an assault and possible abduction by a well-meaning CW #3 ultimately resulted in SO #1, SO #2, and other members of the WRPS, deciding to initiate and continue a SAP pursuant to Regulation 266 of the Police Services Act.
Prior to the pursuit beginning, at 9:41 a.m., at the Tim Hortons located at Franklin Avenue and Pinebush Road, SO #1 attempted, without success, to stop the Pontiac from fleeing. WO #3 heard SO #1 broadcast that he commenced strategically following the Pontiac at that location, but that he was not engaged in a pursuit. SO #1 informed WO #3 that a second WRPS marked police cruiser driven by SO #2 was directly behind him. However, when the updated statements of CW #3 provided to the police dispatcher were relayed to SO #1
The pursuit route of both police cruisers was 25.16 km. The Pontiac driven by Complainant #1 took the following route and was pursued for the most part by the two WRPS police cruisers: east of Pinebush Road from the area of Hespeler Road for a distance of 0.76 kilometres; south on Franklin Boulevard for a distance of 2.41 kilometres; east on Saginaw Parkway meeting Townline Road at a T-intersection for a distance of 2.70 kilometres
As SO #1 witnessed the prolonged flight of the Pontiac, he concluded that he had multiple reasons to believe that Complainant #2 was in imminent danger. I infer, based on all of the evidence, that SO #1 concluded that the need to apprehend Complainant #1 outweighed the risk to public safety. Significantly, SO #1, during the latter stage of the pursuit, broadcast, “For the safety of the possible victim in the passenger seat, we are in pursuit.”
Furthermore, in assessing the reasonableness of the pursuit, it is important to note that both SO #1 and SO #2 were in continuous communication with the WRPS dispatcher, who relayed the information to the WRPS communications bureau being monitored by WO #3. In addition, broadcast communications were being monitored by WO #2. Realizing that a SAP was proceeding, WO #3 considered a number of potential methods to safely end the pursuit, each of which were not feasible for various reasons.
The evidence establishes that no WRPS police vehicle was involved in this collision, either directly or indirectly. At about 9:55 a.m., the Pontiac was travelling at a high rate of speed southbound on Highway 6. The physical evidence and the conclusion of the Collision Reconstruction Report are consistent with Complainant #1 having lost control of the Pontiac due to travelling at a high rate of speed (estimated to be approximately 123 to 126 km/h), along with aggressive lane changes, and over-correction, as described by a number of independent witnesses. The impact with the tractor trailer, driven by CW #1, was head on to the entire passenger side of the Pontiac, completely destroying the Pontiac in the violent collision.
The driver of the Pontiac, 15-year-old Complainant #1, was clearly a troubled young man in a difficult situation. He was driving a stolen car, had assaulted his girlfriend, and was fleeing from the police. In my opinion, given his age
It is my conclusion, based on a review of all the evidence, that the driving of both SO #1 and SO #2 does not rise to the level of driving required to constitute “a marked departure from the norm” and, even less so, “a marked and substantial departure from the standard of a reasonable driver in circumstances” where the accused “showed a reckless disregard for the lives and safety of others.”
I am unable to establish that there was a causal connection between the actions of both subject officers and the catastrophic collision that caused the tragic deaths of both Complainant #1 and Complainant #2. The police decision to begin the pursuit was initially as a result of a reasonable belief that the driver of the vehicle had committed a violent assault and was involved in the continuing abduction of a frightened young woman. They were never given any information throughout the pursuit that could have changed that belief. Additionally, the officers eventually learned that the car was stolen and they knew they had not identified the driver and possible victim. It was clear from the computer based Automatic Vehicle Locator (AVL) data, in co-ordination with the Global Positioning System (GPS) data, that both police cruisers driven by the subject officers in these rural, less populated, areas, were frequently over the posted speed limit in their attempt to catch up to Complainant #1. Both subject officers, however, reduced their speeds in developed areas, especially on Saginaw Parkway, which had a number of school zones, and bicycle lanes on both sides of the road.
Just prior to the impact, CW #6 described both police cruisers appearing in his line of sight three to five seconds after the collision had occurred. CW #8 and CW #9 estimated that the marked police cruiser driven by SO #1 arrived at the scene 30 and 45 seconds after the collision. CW #2 was adjacent to the eventual collision location and observed both marked police cruisers were initially ten to 15 car lengths behind the Pontiac, when he first noticed them, and further indicated that the distance expanded when the cruisers were caught up in traffic.
In general, in assessing the reasonableness of the speeds attained by the officers, it is of note that the traffic was light, road conditions were dry along the pursuit route, and there is no evidence that the driving of either of the two subject officers put any of the members of the public at risk throughout any part of the pursuit. The lead officer, SO #1, kept providing updates on speeds
As I find that there is no basis to hold either of the two subject officers responsible for the catastrophic outcome of the motor vehicle collision, I further find that there is insufficient evidence to form reasonable grounds to believe that a criminal offence has been committed. Accordingly, no charges will issue.
Date: September 12, 2018
Original signed by
Special Investigations Unit
- footnote Back to paragraph Highway 6 has four lanes for traffic, two northbound and two southbound, with a paved shoulder, and near the scene of the collision, a centre turn lane for traffic in both directions.
- footnote Back to paragraph A detailed description of the interaction observed in the video is found in the Video Surveillance summary in the Video/Audio/Photographic Evidence section of this Report at pages 15 and 16.
- footnote Back to paragraph In fact, this was the opinion of another civilian, CW #11, who indicated that she believed that Complainant #1 was dragging Complainant #2 out of the vehicle, but did not believe the situation was serious enough to call 911.
- footnote Back to paragraph Both CW #3 and CW #11 (another civilian witness) described the vehicle driven by Complainant #1 as a small red vehicle. It is noteworthy that the Red Pontiac was stolen between Sunday October 1, 2017 and Monday October 2, 2017 at 7:06 p.m. from a parking lot on Victoria Street in Strathroy. The Strathroy-Caradoc Police Service issued a Crime Alert (BOLO) on October 2, 2107. Complainant #1 was identified as a possible suspect of the theft of the Pontiac.
- footnote Back to paragraph I did not observe the punches reported by CW #3 on the video. The video, however, does reveal moments of forceful pushing of Complainant #2 by Complainant #1 away from himself and the vehicle.
- footnote Back to paragraph None of the civilian witnesses knew the name of the driver of the red Pontiac. Nevertheless, throughout this report, reference will be made to the driver as being Complainant #1
- footnote Back to paragraph In fact, at this point there were two, not three, marked police cruisers being driven by SO #1, in the lead, and followed by SO #2.
- footnote Back to paragraph The initial civilian witnesses were located and interviewed. The routes driven by the pursuing police officers as well as the initial civilian witnesses were traced and videotaped.
- footnote Back to paragraph The essence of this information was passed on to the officers by the dispatcher.
- footnote Back to paragraph The WRPS marked police cruiser was driven by SO #1.
- footnote Back to paragraph The WRPRS marked police cruiser was driven by SO #2.
- footnote Back to paragraph The WRPS marked police cruiser was driven by SO #1.
- footnote Back to paragraph While additional WRPS marked police cruisers were ultimately involved in the pursuit, additional civilian witnesses were unanimous in stating that the first two marked police cruisers were the most actively involved with the pursuit and those cruisers were driven by SO #1 and SO #2.
- footnote Back to paragraph CW #16 subsequently observed a third WRPS SUV marked police cruiser being followed by a fourth marked police cruiser a fair distance behind. Both the third and fourth marked police cruisers had their emergency lights activated.
- footnote Back to paragraph If his estimate of the time and speed were accurate, the cruiser would be a minimum of eight kilometres behind the Pontiac. He was obviously mistaken.
- footnote Back to paragraph On October 5, 2017, at approximately 9:40 a.m., CW #5 witnessed the Pontiac driven by Complainant #1 being followed by two WRPS marked police cruisers eastbound on Gore Road at speeds of 100 km/h plus. At that point, both WRPS marked police cruisers were about a car length behind the Pontiac. The evidence of CW #5 essentially corroborates the evidence of both CW #16 and CW #17.
- footnote Back to paragraph CW #9’s estimate of the arrival of the first WRPS marked police cruiser was approximately 45 seconds to one minute after the collision, with a second WRPS marked police cruiser arriving at the scene about ten seconds behind the first. It was the opinion of CW #9 that both WRPS marked cruisers were a sufficient distance behind the fleeing Pontiac that they did not appear to be actively pursuing the Pontiac.
- footnote Back to paragraph As indicated above, CW #6 was driving southbound on Highway 6. He observed that the roadway was dry, the southbound traffic flow was moderate, and the northbound traffic flow was more congested. In his opinion, the marked police cruisers were not matching the speed of the Pontiac and he noted that the marked police cruisers arrived three to four seconds after the collision. The evidence of both CW #6 and CW #19 is generally consistent with the evidence of CW #8 and CW #9.
- footnote Back to paragraph CW #3 indicated to the police dispatcher, in error, that the motor vehicle was a red Toyota. In fact, the motor vehicle was a red Pontiac.
- footnote Back to paragraph CW #3’s use of the phrase, “He let her have it,” does not accord with what I observed on the surveillance video obtained from Tommy’s Pizza and Wings. However, it is clear that the video shows Complainant #1 pushing and struggling with and, on one occasion, dragging Complainant #2 out of the Pontiac and then pushing her to the ground. Nevertheless, overall, CW #3 is a reliable and credible witness.
- footnote Back to paragraph Stop sticks are tire deflation devices also commonly known as spike belts, spike strips, or stingers.
- footnote Back to paragraph WO #4 was not aware that any attempt had been made by SO #1 and SO #2 to actually perform the rolling block.
- footnote Back to paragraph A 951 broadcast is a code for a motor vehicle collision (MVC) with injuries.
- footnote Back to paragraph A 953 broadcast is a code for an MVC fatality.
- footnote Back to paragraph That being said, a failure to fully comply with the SAP policy does not necessarily mean that the officers were committing a criminal offence.
- footnote Back to paragraph Including the fact CW #3 observed that Complainant #2 was distressed and crying.
- footnote Back to paragraph SO #1 lost track of the Pontiac because he chose to slow down on Saginaw Parkway which had a posted speed limit of 40 km/h and had five designated school zones, as well as bicycle lanes on both sides of the street. SO #2 did not follow SO #1 onto Saginaw Parkway.
- footnote Back to paragraph Complainant #1 was only 15 at the time; however, this would have been unknown to the officers as almost all of the witness believed him to be in his twenties. CW #3, in the 911 call, specifically described him as being about 25.
- footnote Back to paragraph The description of Complainant #1 trying to squeeze through two lanes of highway traffic was provided by CW #9.
- footnote Back to paragraph The AVL data verifies the opinion of CW #2 that the speed in ten second intervals of both marked police cruisers from the entrance to Highway 6 from Gore Road, to the accident location, were as follows: the speed of SO #1 was (km/h) 94, 154, 165, 106, 43, and 0; and the speed of SO #2, on the same stretch of Highway 6, were (km/h) 101, 162, 173, 61, 28, and 0. Both subject officers broadcast that they intended to attempt a rolling block on the Pontiac on Highway 6, which resulted for a brief period of time in the increased speeds recorded by the AVL data.
- footnote Back to paragraph While it is true that the speed updates were not 100% accurate, on the whole and in the circumstances, the AVL data largely confirmed SO #1’s announced speeds.