SIU concludes Cornwall investigation, no charges to be laid
Special Investigations Unit
The Director of the Special Investigations Unit (SIU), Ian Scott, has concluded that there are no reasonable grounds to charge an officer of the Cornwall Community Police Service (CCPS) with a criminal offence in regards to the injuries sustained by 43-year-old Michael Fritz of Cornwall, in June of this year.
Mississauga - Jul. 21, 2011 - The Director of the Special Investigations Unit (SIU), Ian Scott, has concluded that there are no reasonable grounds to charge an officer of the Cornwall Community Police Service (CCPS) with a criminal offence in regards to the injuries sustained by 43-year-old Michael Fritz of Cornwall, in June of this year.
The SIU assigned five investigators, two forensic investigators and two collision re-constructionists to investigate this occurrence. A police car was examined and the incident scene was forensically mapped. The CCPS supplied pertinent information and documentation. One officer was designated as a subject officer and interviewed. Four officers were designated as witness officers and interviewed. Six civilian witnesses were located and also interviewed.
The SIU investigation determined that on June 16, 2011 the subject officer was responding to the scene of a fatal motor vehicle collision. The officer had his police car’s emergency equipment (emergency lights and siren) activated. As the subject officer was nearing the scene he drove from the westbound lanes into the eastbound lanes because the westbound traffic was stopped. Mr. Fritz was stopped on his motorcycle in the westbound traffic ahead of the police cruiser. He entered the eastbound lanes with the intention of making a U-turn. The subject officer attempted to avoid colliding with Mr. Fritz’s motorcycle, but was unsuccessful. Mr. Fritz sustained a broken leg and was taken to hospital by ambulance.
Director Scott said, "In my view, there are no reasonable grounds to believe that the subject officer committed a criminal offence in relation to the injuries sustained by Mr. Fritz, as a result of a motor vehicle collision on June 16th, 2011. On that day, the subject officer was driving in a westbound direction on South Branch Road toward the intersection of McConnell Avenue in response to a possible fatal motor vehicle accident at that location. He had activated his police car’s emergency equipment. As he approached the intersection, he was driving slightly over the posted speed limit of 80 km/h. The roads were clear and he had good visibility. The traffic was backed up in the westbound lane and non-existent in the eastbound lane due to the traffic accident at the intersection. The subject officer adjusted his speed and moved into the eastbound lane in an attempt to approach the accident scene. Mr. Fritz, who was driving a motorcycle and stopped in a line of traffic in the westbound lane, decided to turn eastbound in an attempt to leave the traffic congestion. He pulled his motorcycle out into the path of the police vehicle and the subject officer attempted to avoid a collision by applying his brakes. Mr. Fritz pulled further into the eastbound lane and the subject officer turned his vehicle to the right and applied his brakes harder in an attempt to avoid a collision. Unfortunately, the collision was unavoidable and the front passenger fender connected with the left side of Mr. Fritz’s motorcycle. Mr. Fritz sustained a broken leg in the collision."
Director Scott concluded, "In my view, the subject officer had the lawful authority to drive in the manner he did: he was in the execution of his lawful duties in responding to an emergency situation; he was not speeding at the time of the collision; the road conditions were clear; and he had activated his emergency equipment in an attempt to notify others that he was passing in the eastbound lane. Further, the eastbound lane was empty when he moved his police vehicle into it. Accordingly, while the injuries sustained by Mr. Fritz as a result of the accident were regrettable, the subject officer cannot be held criminally liable for causing them."
The SIU is an arm’s length agency that investigates reports involving police where there has been death, serious injury or allegations of sexual assault. Under the Police Services Act, the Director of the SIU must
consider whether an officer has committed a criminal offence in connection with the incident under investigation
depending on the evidence, lay a criminal charge against the officer if appropriate or close the file without any charges being laid
report the results of any investigations to the Attorney General.
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