SIU clears Wellington OPP officers of criminal wrongdoing after pursuit ends with crash

The driver of a Chrysler 300 suffered fractures following a pursuit through Wellington County and Halton that ended in a ditch

MISSISSAUGA – The province’s Special Investigations Unit has found no grounds to criminally charge any OPP officers in connection to a man’s injuries after a pursuit that ended in a Centre Wellington ditch in March.

Approaching 1am on March 22, an OPP officer watched a Chrysler 300 pass him at high speed along Main Street in Erin.

The officer caught up, turned on his flashing lights and siren and, at nearly 150km/h, the chase was off.

According to a publicly available SIU report on the agency’s investigation into police actions, the officer tried to overtake the car, but was blocked by the driver each time.

Asked by an OPP dispatcher why he was in pursuit, the officer claimed the driver had tried to ram and run him off the road.

As the chase passed into Halton, beyond Eramosa Township Line, the OPP was called off.

Halton police took over and laid a spike strip that busted a tire but didn’t stop the Chrysler.

Returning to the county more than half an hour later, another OPP officer saw the vehicle and took over pursuit on Main Street in Rockwood, but didn’t turn on his flashing lights.

That officer — none are named in the report — also tried unsuccessfully to overtake the car.

The Chrysler’s driver ran a red light and a stop sign, drove on the wrong side of the road, and swerved across lanes.

The chase continued onto Wellington Road 27, turning into 5th Line and later 4th Line in Centre Wellington.

Based on the road offences, and there being no traffic and/or risk to public safety, the OPP’s central communications centre gave the green light for police to stop the car, according to the SIU.

At 1:45am, nine minutes after the officer began chasing the vehicle in Rockwood, the officer finally turned on emergency lights for the final 5km stretch and three minutes of the pursuit.

An image captured by an OPP drone shows the intersection of Wellington Road 18 and 4th Line in Centre Wellington. SIU report image


Other officers also joined in, with their lights on, and a supervisor stated on the radio that if a civilian vehicle appeared the pursuit was done.

Despite civilian vehicles being seen along the way, according to car camera footage referenced in the report, police ignored the explicit instruction and continued pursuit.

“No mention was made of those vehicles by any of the police officers,” the report states.

Travelling at 138km/h on 4th Line, the Chrysler skidded across Wellington Road 18 for a matter of seconds before slamming into a ditch at 56km/h. The chase had lasted 12 minutes over 19km.

According to a crash data retrieval system report, the driver wasn’t wearing a seatbelt, and airbags deployed.Officers removed a 43-year-old man from the car, according to video footage referenced in the report, and after getting him to the ground to arrest him, punched him at least six times and kneed him four times.

Shortly after, paramedics transported the man to Groves Memorial Community Hospital and he was later transferred to Hamilton General Hospital with bone fractures in his face, ankle and foot.

SUI investigators attended the scene in the afternoon and interviewed the man the same day.

The two main OPP officers involved in the pursuit refused to grant SIU investigators an interview, nor did they provide their notes.

SIU director Joseph Martino wrote in the report there were no grounds to believe police had committed any criminal offence related to the use of force, the man’s injuries or the pursuit.

“There is no basis for proceeding with criminal charges in this case,” he wrote, closing the file.