Police officer in Ajax who tried to block fleeing driver cleared by SIU

By

Published January 27, 2023 at 6:19 pm

The Ontario police watchdog has cleared a Durham police officer who attempted to block the driver of a stolen SUV — who then hit a tree.

The Special Investigations Unit (SIU) announced Friday that there are “no reasonable grounds” to believe that the Durham Regional Police officer committed a crime when a suspect suffered serious injuries following a pursuit in Ajax last Sept. 30. There had been calls to police, and to 911, that day about the complainant. The first series of calls were about him and a woman spray-painting a vehicle. There were further multiple 911 calls to complain about a man who was speeding and driving recklessly through residential areas while operating a Chevy Tahoe and towing a trailer .

Eventually, the officer stopped his cruiser on Delaney Dr. with his emergency lights activated. The complainant tried to pass the cruiser on its passenger side, but clipped it, taking the right front tire off of both vehicles. The three-wheeled Tahoe hit a tree seconds later, and another arriving officer realized the man needed medical care.

“I am satisfied that the (subject officer) comported himself with due care and regard for public safety,” SIU director Joseph Martino said. “The manoeuvre he specifically chose — a roadblock — clearly carried risks. It was attempted on a residential street in use by motorists and pedestrians at the time. On the other hand, it bears repeating that there was some urgency to stopping the Tahoe — it had been reported driving dangerously.

“… the collision is as much the result of the Complainant’s desperate decision-making at the time as anything the officer did,” Martino adds.

“With respect to the Complainant’s collision with the tree, the facts speak for themselves. He was at that point operating a vehicle without a front tire, lost control and crashed.”

The complainant suffered liver trauma as a result of the collision. The SIU adds that he “remov(ed) two of his own teeth” while behaving aggressively with medical workers at the Ajax Pickering Hospital. The SIU investigates whenever a police officer is part of an incident where there has been death, serious injury, a sexual assault allegation, and/or shots fired at a person.

The SIU investigates whenever a police officer is part of an incident where there has been death, serious injury, a sexual assault allegation, and/or shots fired at a person.

During the investigation, video was screened by the SIU, including footage from the subject officer’s body-worn camera. The officer was interviewed by the SIU but exercised his right not to submit notes. Two witness officials (other police officers) were interviewed, and four others submitted their case notes for review.

Five members of the public, whom the SIU refers to as “civilian witnesses,” were also interviewed.

The full director’s report, which contains graphic content that might shock, offend, and upset, is available at siu.on.ca.

INdurham's Editorial Standards and Policies advertising