Toronto cops acquitted in fatal police chase

Two Toronto police officers have been found not guilty of dangerous driving in a high-speed chase that ended with the death of an elderly cyclist.

Constables Karl Heilimo and Geraid O'Kane were charged when a stolen van they were pursuing two years ago crashed into a parked car before hitting a 73-year-old cyclist on a sidewalk.

The Crown accused the officers of flawed judgment in starting and continuing the chase through residential streets. At times the van was clocked at up to 160 km/h.

But both officers argued they were just doing their job. Police forces across the country were worried that a conviction in the case would impede the way they do their job.

After deliberating for two days, a jury acquitted the constables on Thursday.

The driver of the van, who was 14 at the time, pleaded guilty in 1998 to several charges, including criminal negligence causing death. He was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in custody.

At least a dozen people have been killed in police chases in Canada over the past year. Last month, the House of Commons passed legislation that imposes stiffer penalties on motorists who flee police.