A Hamilton police officer has been cleared of any wrongdoing in a fatal September 2021 crash tied to the death of a female driver in the city centre, according to Ontario’s police watchdog.
The Special Investigations Unit (SIU) examination involved a pair of crashes that happened around 9 a.m. on Sept. 29 not far from Gage Avenue South and King Street East.
Director Joseph Martino concluded in a report that the subject officer “did not transgress the limits of care” in a brief pursuit of a pickup truck he believed was leaving the scene of an accident.
“There is nothing to suggest any indiscretions on the part of the subject officer in the course of his very brief pursuit of the pickup truck along Highland Avenue and East Bend Avenue North,” Martino said.
“The officer was within his rights in trying to stop the vehicle after it was seen to be leaving the scene of an accident.”
The SIU decision’s narrative described a setting in which two Hamilton police officers, on an unrelated service call, encountered two vehicles in a collision on Gage Avenue near King Street.
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After telling one of the drivers to call 9-1-1, one officer noticed the pickup truck involved in the crash drive away from the scene.
The SIU said both officers briefly followed the truck along Highland and East Bend before opting to abandon the pursuit due to excessive speed and resume their previous call for service. They lost sight of the truck when it turned onto Balsam Avenue South.
“He travelled at moderate speeds with his emergency lights activated and without imperiling traffic in the vicinity,” Martino wrote in his decision regarding the officer’s actions.
“I am also satisfied that his decision to discontinue the pursuit was reasonable. By that point, the pickup truck had accelerated to dangerous speeds and it was clear that it was not going to stop for the police.”
The SIU believes the truck later entered an intersection at “highway speed” near Balsam and Maplewood Avenue where it was then involved in another collision, striking a vehicle and killing a woman.
The male driver of the truck is alleged to have fled the scene on foot.