Ontario’s police watchdog says Toronto officer who chased teens before SUV crash acted ‘reasonably’

The Special Investigations Unit has been called in to probe the death of a motorist in Sarnia. Global News

Ontario’s police watchdog says there are no grounds to charge a Toronto-area police officer who was involved in a brief car chase with two teens before their SUV crashed last fall.

The collision took place in northwest Toronto in the early morning hours of Oct. 15 when an SUV struck a fuel tanker and a GO Transit bus.

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At the time, police said the 13-year-old who was allegedly at the wheel had been taken into custody and the teenage passenger was being treated for serious leg injuries.

The Special Investigations Unit was called to look into the incident because a York Region police officer tried to stop the vehicle and briefly pursued it shortly before the crash.

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The SIU says the officer was within his rights to do so and gave chase for less than 500 metres before choosing not to continue.

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It says while the officer should have immediately notified a police dispatcher that a chase had taken place, he nonetheless conducted himself reasonably and with due regard for the safety of other traffic in the area.

“He quickly appreciated the speed with which the SUV was accelerating away from his cruiser and decided, wisely in my view, that his further involvement would needlessly add to the danger on the road,” the SIU’s director, Joseph Martino, wrote in the report.

There is no evidence the officer “unduly pressured” the driver, Martino wrote.

“The officer had called off the pursuit well in advance of the collision, giving the driver of the SUV every opportunity to adopt a safer course.”

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