January 9, 2019 12:18 pm

SIU clear Peterborough police in downtown pursuit that ended in collision

The SIU has cleared Peterborough Police Service for a pursuit in January 2018 which ended in a collision and injuries to a woman.

CHEX News file
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The province’s Special Investigations Unit says there are no reasonable grounds to lay criminal charges against a Peterborough Police Service officer after a woman was injured during a vehicle pursuit that ended in a collision last January.

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In his report issued Wednesday, SIU director of investigations Tony Loparco says that on the morning of Jan. 13, an officer noticed a white Mercedes SUV executing a U-turn and travelling in the wrong direction on George Street, a one-way street.

READ MORE: SIU clear Peterborough officer after man injured while in custody

Loparco says the subject officer (SO) pursued the vehicle with his emergency lights and siren activated but the driver failed to stop.

Other officers joined the pursuit as the vehicle headed onto Water Street travelling at estimated speeds of more than 100 km/h — double the legal speed limit.

Loparco says the short pursuit ended when the SUV ran a red light at the intersection of Water Street and Parkhill Road and collided with the complainant’s car. A 55-year-old woman in the car suffered a fractured knee as a result of the collision, the report states.

The SIU invoked its mandate as a result of the woman’s injuries. The SIU investigates interactions between police and civilians which result in serious injuries, sexual assault or death.

Loparco said the pursuit ended approximately 21 seconds after it began. The driver and a passenger in the SUV and the subject officer (SO) declined to provide a statement to investigators.

“After a careful consideration of all the evidence, I am unable to find reasonable grounds to believe that the SO committed a criminal offence in relation to the complainant’s injury,” Loparco stated.

The SIU director said while he was concerned that the pursuit lasted through several intersections, he was unable to conclude he had reasonable grounds to determine the subject officer was driving dangerously.

READ MORE: SIU investigating after man injured in altercation with Peterborough police

“I similarly cannot conclude that the SO’s conduct during the pursuit amounted to a marked departure from the standard of care of a reasonable police officer,” he said. “In coming to this conclusion, I acknowledge that neither the SO nor the other officers involved in the pursuit notified a dispatcher after initiating the pursuit as required.”

Loparco said because the pursuit was “extremely short,” it would have made it challenging for the officers to notify dispatch of the pursuit and reassess the circumstances to conclude whether to continue the pursuit.

“There was simply very little time to make these crucial decisions,” he said. “In such circumstances, I cannot find the SO’s decision to continue pursuing a vehicle that potentially represented a danger to public safety represented a marked departure from the conduct of a reasonable police officer.”

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