OPP officer cleared of wrongdoing in dramatic Hwy. 401 chase, crash: SIU

A Black Honda Civic was destroyed following a dramatic police chase on Highway 401 in Kingston last year.
A Black Honda Civic was destroyed following a dramatic police chase on Highway 401 in Kingston last year. Special Investigations Unit

Ontario’s Special Investigations Unit (SIU) says an OPP officer is not at fault for the injuries a woman sustained following a dangerous police chase in Kingston last year.

According to the SIU, an OPP officer was travelling east on Highway 401 from the Division Street entrance when a black Honda Civic zoomed past his vehicle.

Read more: OPP reporting several collisions on Highway 401 west of Kingston

The SIU said the vehicle was going at least 40 km/h over the speed limit and that it almost struck a concrete barrier when passing the OPP cruiser.

In order to catch up to the Honda, the SIU says the officer drove over 160 km/h. The officer pulled up to the vehicle and gestured to the woman to pull over, but the SIU said she continued on.

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The officer followed the Honda off the highway onto Highway 15, until he was instructed by a Sergeant monitoring the chase to stop.

When the officer was given the go-ahead to start patrolling again, the SIU said he came upon the Honda stopped in the middle of Innovation Drive for no apparent reason.

The officer parked his cruiser nearby and walked up to the vehicle, but the Honda drove off back onto Highway 15, the SIU says.

Another police officer in a cruiser down the highway became involved, and the two officers agreed to try to deploy a “tandem stop.”

“The technique involves the use of police cruisers to surround and eventually stop a subject vehicle via controlled deceleration,” says Joseph Martino, director of the SIU.

Click to play video: 'Overnight flurries lead to a number of crashes in the Kingston area'
Overnight flurries lead to a number of crashes in the Kingston area

The move worked at first, but the SIU says the Honda was able to pull away from the cruisers, striking one on its way out of the vehicle’s trap.

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The Honda then went back onto Highway 401, and not long afterward, the officers were notified that the vehicle had crashed into a rock-cut near Battersea Road.

The SIU says data downloaded from the Honda shows it reached 200 km/h five seconds before the crash.

The woman’s shoulder and leg were broken during the collision and she was taken to Kingston General Hospital for treatment.

In his decision, Martino says the officer in charge of the chase did at times take dangerous risks to stop the vehicle, including going over 160 km/h on Highway 401 and attempting a tandem stop.

“Though officers are trained in the technique, and provision is made for its use in police policies governing pursuits, it is a risky maneuver given the potential for vehicle-to-vehicle contact and should be reserved for situations where it is imperative that a vehicle be stopped,” Martino said.

Nevertheless, Martino said that all prior evidence pointed to the woman being a “serious danger” on the roadway, and concluded that the steps taken by the OPP officer were necessary.

The unnamed officer has been cleared of any wrongdoing.

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