An RCMP officer shot and killed a man in Truro, Nova Scotia, near Halifax, in the early morning of August 10, 2019. The Serious Incident Response Team (SIRT), the agency that examines cases of police harm to civilians in the province, is investigating. Police reports, that have not been independently confirmed, claim that the fatal event started when an officer spotted a car that had been reported stolen in Cumberland County at around 2:30 AM. Police claim that the vehicle hit the officer, and the officer shot at the driver. The driver was struck by police fire and died at the scene. There are no identified witnesses at this point, but a bystander claims to have heard on a police scanner that the event began with a police chase.
Tag Archives: chase
A 24-year-old woman was killed in a car crash following multiple pursuits by RCMP near Red Deer, Alberta on July 31, 2019. The Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT), the agency that examines cases of police harm to civilians in the province, is investigating. According to ASIRT, police were called at about 12:35 PM in response to reports of gunshots in the town of Blackfalds, about 15 kilometers north of Red Deer. Locating a described vehicle, police allegedly made at least three attempts to pursue it before it was struck by a pickup truck eastbound on Highway 11. The truck driver was treated on the scene for minor injuries. The 24-year-old woman passenger in the Mustang was taken to Red Deer Regional Hospital, where she later died. The drive of the pursued vehicle, a 27-year-old man, was airlifted to a hospital in Edmonton, where he is in stable condition, according to ASIRT.
Officers of the Peterborough Police Service and the Peterborough County OPP (Ontario Provincial Police) were involved in the shooting and killing of 27-year-old Billy Shea on July 23, 2019. The Special Investigations Unit (SIU), the agency that examines cases of police harm to civilians in Ontario, reports that the shooting occurred during a standoff.
The SIU reports that around 8:30 PM, police began to follow a vehicle on Highway 115 believed to have been used in alleged robberies. They claim that the police pursuit ended with the Mustang colliding with another vehicle in the area of The Parkway and Sir Sandford Fleming Drive in Peterborough. Peterborough Police Service and Peterborough County OPP officers then allegedly became involved in an armed standoff with occupants in the vehicle they had been pursuing.
The SIU says that at around 9:40 PM one officer discharged his firearm and struck the individual, later identified as Billy Shea, killing him. The victim was transported to hospital where he was pronounced dead.
According to the SIU, six investigators and three forensic investigators have been assigned to the case. At the time of posting, one subject officer from the Peterborough Police Service has been designated. In addition, five officers with Peterborough County OPP and seven officers with the Peterborough Police Service have been designated as witness officers.
Two people, a 36-year-old man and a 62-year-old woman have been killed in a six-car crash following a police pursuit on July 7, 2019 on Highway 417 near Ottawa. Officers of the Ottawa Police Service and the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) had initiated pursuit of a vehicle driven by the 36-year-old victim.
The Special Investigations Unit (SIU, the agency that examines cases of police harm to civilians in Ontario) reports that the crash incident was initiated with a call from a man reporting that his daughter had been abused by a family friend at a Kanata hotel. This means the identity of the alleged suspect was known and under Ontario rules a police pursuit should not have been undertaken (where a suspect’s identity is known).
The SIU has designated one Ottawa police officer as the subject of its investigation, and also identified three other “witness officers,” two of whom are OPP officers. The agency assigned three investigators, two forensic specialists, and a collision reconstruction expert to its investigation team.
According to Ottawa defence lawyer Lawrence Greenspon, the main job for the SIU is to determine why the pursuit was launched given the identity of the suspect was known to police. While rules govern when a suspect should be pursued, Greenspon notes that too often those regulations are not followed. He outlines the too regular script followed by police:
“Every time there’s a crash like this it’s the same story: ‘We started the pursuit and it was stopped before the fatal collision took place.’ The big question here that needs to be answered is: Why were they chasing him in the first place? If they knew his identity, why start chasing him?” (quoted in Duffy, Yogaretnam, Gillis, and Miller 2019).
In Ottawa, the police service’s policy “requires that officers only engage in a pursuit if they believe a crime has been committed and if there’s no alternative for apprehending a suspect who poses a threat to public safety” (Duffy, Yogaretnam, Gillis, and Miller 2019).
Duffy, Andrew, Shaamini Yogaretnam, Megan Gillis, and Jacquie Miller. 2019. “Updated — Highway 417 Crash: Vehicle Pursuit Stemmed from Sexual Assault Investigation.” Ottawa Citizen July 9. https://ottawacitizen.com/news/local-news/multi-vehicle-crash-closes-westbound-highway-417-at-panmure-road
High speed police chases are known to be dangerous and deadly. Yet police continue to engage in them even where the fleeing person is only suspected of harmless or minimally harmful activity. And people continue to be killed as a result.
On July 19, 2018, a 63-year-old man was killed during a police chase in Trois-Rivières, Quebec. Initial reports suggest that the incident occurred around noon as the car that the victim was riding in was hit by a vehicle driven by someone in a high-speed pursuit by police.
According to Quebec’s bureau of independent investigations (Bureau des enquêtes indépendantes, BEI), the agency that investigates cases of police harm to civilians in the province, the chase started during a police crackdown on people not wearing seat belts and involved police pursuing a vehicle with an expired license plate. For that police were willing to throw all care to the wind—and a person was killed as a result.
The BEI has assigned 12 investigators to the case.
A high speed police chase by members of the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) ended in the death of Sheila Walsh (65), who was not the target of the chase. The driver of the pursued vehicle, a pickup truck, crashed into the vehicle being driven by Walsh with the truck bursting into flames. Walsh was declared dead at the scene. After the crash police told neighbors to evacuate their homes because of gasoline spilling out at the scene.
The Special Investigations Unit (SIU), which examines harm to civilians by police in Ontario, is investigating the high-speed pursuit and how OPP officers responded to the situation. According to the SIU, police claim that at about 3:20 PM on September 25, 2017, the OPP responded to a call about a reportedly stolen vehicle in Eganville, around 130 kilometers west of Ottawa. The 20-year-old driver of the vehicle in question headed toward Arnprior on Highway 60, then to Highway 17, where the OPP began their pursuit. The truck collided with Welsh’s car a bit after 4 PM as she was pulling from her driveway on Daniel Street.
The SIU has assigned five investigators, two forensic investigators, and one collision reconstructionist to investigate the crash and the circumstances leading to it. None of the police claims have been independently confirmed. It is known that the risky and careless police decision to pursue enforcement of property rights has led to the death of a civilian.
One witness put it in clearly sensible term, In the words of Eric Bayley, a Bell Canada worker who observed the chase and crash while working:
“The chase should never have happened. If the guy robbed a bank they would have got him sooner or later. It was a stolen vehicle. Big freakin’ deal. Now a poor grandmother, mother, sister is dead. There’s no … way in hell those cops should have been chasing them down that … road.” (quoted in Crawford and Gillis 2017)
“There had to have been eight cop cars and three Suburbans wide open going down Daniel Street. It could have been a lot worse. I was talking to my buddy on the phone and I was like, ‘Holy s—t. This is not going to go well.’ He said, ‘What’s going on?’ and I said, ‘There’s a high-speed chase. There’s cruiser after cruiser after cruiser.’” (quoted in Crawford and Gillis 2017)
Indeed, a flag worker on construction site the chase plowed through had to leap to safety.
Ontario’s Police Services Act sets out the rules governing police pursuits. According to the Act, police can pursue or continue pursuit “if the police officer has reason to believe that a criminal offence has been committed or is about to be committed; or for the purposes of motor vehicle identification or the identification of an individual in the vehicle.” The Act also further states police must continually weigh whether “the immediate need to apprehend an individual in the fleeing motor vehicle or the need to identify the fleeing motor vehicle or an individual in the fleeing motor vehicle outweighs the risk to public safety that may result from the pursuit.” Dispatch must be notified of the pursuit and the (Crawford and Gillis 2017).
Crawford, Blair and Megan Gillis. 2017. “Eganville Man Faces Charges After Woman Killed in Crash During Police Chase.” Ottawa Citizen September 27. http://ottawacitizen.com/news/local-news/witness-describes-devastating-and-deadly-arnprior-crash
Ontario Provincial Police Officer Will Not Be Charged Despite “Objectively Dangerous Driving” in Death of Grace Glofcheskie
There have been a large number of incidents of police driving at high speeds and/or in reckless fashion resulting in the deaths of uninvolved civilians over the last few years across Canada. The Special Investigations Unit (SIU), the agency that examines cases of police harm to civilians has concluded that no criminal charges will be brought against an Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) officer in relation to the high speed police chase that resulted in the death of pedestrian Grace Glofcheskie in Guelph, Ontario in 2015. This despite the SIU investigation finding that the officer’s driving was “objectively dangerous” and his vehicle was in excess of 68 km/h over the posted speed limit at times during the chase.
The officer was pursuing an SUV whose driver was attempting to avoid a RIDE (drinking and driving) spot check on December 13, 2015. The chase went through Guelph’s downtown area. At its conclusion the SUV driver lost control, crossing onto a sidewalk and flipping. Grace Glofcheskie, who was walking home after visiting friends, was struck by the SUV. She was taken to hospital but died of her injuries. The SUV was later identified as stolen.
The SIU reported that it had assigned seven investigators, two forensic investigators, and one collision reconstructionist to the case. Six police officers and six civilians were interviewed for the investigation. The officer being investigated did not participate, nor did he provide a copy of his notes. This is a contentious part of SIU investigations, as police are legally allowed to withhold their notes, one which has been challenged by critics of the SIU and oversight procedures in Ontario.
There are some questions raised by the SIU report. Notably their conclusion not to bring any charges against the officer despite finding that his driving had been “objectively dangerous” in their words and the speeds of more than 68 km/h over the posted speed limit reached by the officer. The SIU explanation is also rather perplexing. It states: “However, the factual context does not allow me to conclude that the driving amounted to a marked departure from the standard of care that a reasonable person in the same situation as the officer would have exercised in the circumstances” (SIU Release). It is hard to see how a civilian driving at such speeds over the posted limit and in an “objectively dangerous” manner would be viewed as so reasonable and would avoid charges. Indeed it is shown time and again that civilian drivers under less dangerous circumstances are charged.