No criminal charges for Brantford officer after 94-year-old woman killed in collision

A police officer won't be criminally charged for his involvement in a police chase that led to a collision causing a 94-year-old woman's death and injuries to a 71-year-old passenger, the province's police watchdog said Wednesday.

Brantford police officers were searching for a man wanted for assault with a weapon in connection with a stabbing in November 2016. A police officer watched two men leave a residence associated with the suspect and get into a Nissan.

The officer tried to stop the Nissan by turning on the cruiser's lights and briefly the siren, but the man accelerated to try to get away and drove into an intersection, the Special Investigations Unit report says.

The officer turned off the lights and sirens, the report says.

The man driving the Nissan "failed to negotiate a left turn" and then collided head-on with a Honda, in which the two seniors were passengers. Investigators on scene after the fact estimated the Nissan was traveling 131 km/h in a 50 km/h zone before the collision.

The driver of the other car wasn't injured, but both passengers were. The 94-year-old became unresponsive before paramedics arrived and was rushed to hospital, where she was pronounced dead. The other passenger suffered a broken sternum, a broken bone in her back and two broken bones in her left hand.

The car struck a pole and the driver ran away, the report says. When an officer went to arrest him, he realized it was the stabbing suspect.

The SIU concludes that the officer was trying to stop the Nissan. When it became clear the driver wouldn't stop, the officer deactivated lights and sirens in order to follow, but not pursue, the Nissan.

'No evidence that the [officer's] driving created a danger'

Though the officer wasn't involved in the collision that killed the 94-year-old and injured the 71-year-old, it was the officer's attempt to stop the Nissan that led to it, the SIU said.

But in order for the officer to face any charges, there would have to be evidence that the officer's driving was either dangerous or criminally negligent.

"I find that there is no evidence that the [officer's] driving created a danger to other users of the roadway," said SIU director Tony Loparco.

"At no time did he interfere with any other traffic, the environmental conditions were good and he used his emergency equipment prudently, activating his roof lights and siren in an attempt to make a traffic stop, but then immediately deactivating all emergency equipment as he was concerned that might cause a situation dangerous to the public," Loparco said.

The SIU concluded that the officer cannot be held responsible for the stabbing suspect's driving behaviour, and declined to press charges.

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