No charges for officer who ran over one man, hit another in Waterloo

A Waterloo Regional Police Services officer who ran over one man and hit another when responding to a call about gunfire in Waterloo this past spring will not be criminally charged, the province's Special Investigations Unit says.

How officer didn't see two men 'remains a mystery' SIU interim director says

Joseph Martino, interim director of the Special Investigation Unit, says a Waterloo Regional Police Services officer who hit two men in April when responding to a call will not face criminal charges. Martino did note, though, there are aspects of the officer's conduct 'that are apt for legitimate criticism.' (The Canadian Press)

The province's Special Investigation Unit says a Waterloo Regional Police Services officer will not face charges after he ran over a man and hit another with his cruiser when responding to a report of gunfire in April.

The SIU report released Tuesday said officers were called to the area of King Street and Hickory Street in Waterloo at 3:08 a.m. on April 20 for a report of gunshots and fighting.

"One of the arriving cruisers ran over a man on the roadway," the SIU report said, noting the man did not have any vital signs when he was taken to Grand River Hospital. 

CPR was performed en route to the hospital and the man regained a pulse.

A second man had a fractured leg and head injury.

Visibility 'moderately poor'

The SIU noted it was cold and raining with wet roads and "visibility was moderately poor" when the officer arrived on scene.

One man, identified as Complainant 2, was lying on the roadway near the centre line. The other man, identified as Complainant 1, was standing and leaning over the man on the ground.

The SIU said the cruiser was going between 43 to 54 km/h when it struck the two men.

The man who was lying on the ground was "rotated counter-clockwise then thrust southbound coming to rest some 22 metres south" of where he had been, the report said.

The man who had been standing "was thrust in the air and he came to rest in the centre of King Street North against the driver's door" of a car about six metres south of where they were hit.

Witness video obtained

The SIU interviewed nine civilian witnesses and received three videos of the night. As well, five officers who witnessed the cruiser hitting the two men were interviewed.

Complainant 1, a 22-year-old man, was interviewed and the SIU reviewed his medical records. Complainant 2, a 26-year-old man, was not interviewed "due to medical condition," the report said.

The officer in this case declined to be interviewed or provide notes to the SIU for its investigation, which the SIU noted "is the subject officer's legal right."

Driving not criminal

The decision from Joseph Martino, interim director for the SIU, said the officer would have faced charges of criminal negligence causing bodily harm and dangerous driving causing bodily harm.

"While there are aspects of the [subject officer's] conduct that are apt for legitimate criticism, I am not persuaded on reasonable grounds that the manner in which he drove was so substandard as to attract criminal liability," Martino wrote.

Martino noted it was dark, visibility was "not ideal" and the roads were wet. 

The officer should have been going slower, Martino said, because "the reduced speed would have afforded him a greater reaction time to avoid potential objects on the roadway, particularly as information broadcast over the radio had indicated the presence of persons on the street."

But Martino also said the officer was responding to a serious call of gunfire and there was a "need for a police response that was sooner rather than later."

Martino said it "remains a mystery" how the officer didn't see the two men and "take action to avoid striking them."

"On the basis of what is known from the SIU investigation, I am unable to reasonably conclude that the officer committed a criminal offence notwithstanding the serious injuries he caused," he wrote.

The Waterloo Regional Police Service (WRPS) says it was made aware of the SIU concluding the investigation on Oct. 3.

"The WRPS has initiated a mandatory Section 11 review to satisfy itself that all its chief's and police service board policies were followed and respected and to determine whether those policies should be modified," said a statement from WRPS. A section 11 review is also known as an internal investigation and is done under the Police Services Act.

"Once completed, the Section 11 review will be made public following consideration by the Waterloo Regional Police Services Board."