SD&G OPP rural chase tactics trouble SIU director

MISSISSAUGA, Ont. — The director of Ontario’s Special Investigations Unit has a “particular concern” about how two SD&G OPP officers chased a drunk driving suspect through rural areas of the United Counties.

“Of particular concern (sic) is the speeds at which the officers travelled, and the failure to completely disengage once ordered to discontinue the pursuit by a monitoring sergeant,” Joseph Martino wrote in his report.

The SIU was called in after the July chase, where the man arrested had some sort of medical episode, and died at the scene in a corn field at the intersection of Eamon Road and Gravel Pit Road.

With one cruiser clocked at 188 kilometers an hour on a rural county road, Martino said “it is hard to argue that the vehicles did not constitute a danger on the roadway.”

GPS data recovered from the OPP cruisers for the investigation showed the following:

  • A grey, unmarked Dodge Charger, driven by subject officer #2, recorded the following speeds on County Road 29: 113, 124, 137, 152, 174, 188, 183 and 168 kilometers an hour. The car was recorded for 450 meters on County Road 12 at 106 kilometers an hour before turning west on Eamon Road were speeds were: 143, 167, 168, 163 and 134 kilometers an hour.
  • While the officer slowed to 90 kilometers an hour during the same time a radio transmission was broadcast to end the chase, about 20 seconds later the speed on Eamon Road was back up to 118 kilometers an hour.
  • The Dodge Charter ran off the road into a corn field at the intersection of Eamon Road and Gravel Pit Road. The officer radioed that he had “a mishap in the ditch.”
  • A black and white marked Ford Explorer, driven by subject officer #1, travelled the same route as the Dodge Charger. In recorded speeds “in excess of 150 km/h” and was about 50 meters behind the Charger who was “driving in excess of 160 km/h.”
  • After the radio transmission from the sergeant to terminate the pursuit, subject officer #1 “continued to drive at high speeds, on his way to the complainant’s address.”

Telephone recordings provided for the SIU investigation show an officer, known only as witness official #1, believed the chase should never have happened. “This never would have been a pursuit because we knew who he (the complainant) was,” the official said.

Martino did note the chase was on “sparsely populated rural roads, and the weather was sunny and clear,” noting the weather didn’t add additional risk related to the officer’s conduct.

The director also said the officers were some distance back from the fleeing truck and that they weren’t pushing the man to drive faster.

He also said starting the pursuit, given what had happened at the RIDE spot check, was reasonable.

“When these considerations are weighed in the balance, there is insufficient evidence that the officers’ conduct amounted to a marked departure from a reasonable standard of care in the circumstances – negating the potential for criminal liability,” Martino ruled.

The officers chose not to be interviewed by the SIU and did not authorize the release of their notes for the investigation, which they are legally allowed to do.