Police cleared in Highway 15 rollover

This pickup truck was involved in three separate chases with the Smiths Falls Police Service and Leeds County O.P.P. in August 2017. The SIU has cleared the officers of any criminal wrongdoing in their actions to stop the driver in a ruling released Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2018. (Special Investigations Unit via Newswatch Group)

LOMBARDY – The Ontario Special Investigations Unit (SIU) has cleared Smiths Falls and O.P.P. officers involved in an August 2017 rollover on Highway 15, south of Smiths Falls.

Officers had been called to a home Aug. 27, 2017 near Golf Club Road in Rideau Lakes Township for a 911 disconnected call where the dispatcher could hear a woman crying.

Police had tried to stop a pickup truck leaving the home but the 30-year-old driver took off. His actions that night resulted in three separate chases, which were terminated each time.

The stolen truck later crashed after rolling in a ditch on Highway 15. The driver was ejected and the truck rolled on him. He broke a pubic bone and one of his ankles and had to get stitches to close a wound in the back of his head.

Evidence collected during the investigation showed the black F-150 truck was going 159-161 kilometers an hour with the gas pedal to the floor in a curve when it went out of control, hit a deep ditch and rolled.

SIU Director Tony Loparco found that the suspect had been “engaging the police in some type of game of cat and mouse,” having returned to the scene after the first of the three chases. A second chase was also called off. A third pursuit happened after the suspect rammed two Smiths Falls Police Service cruisers on Highway 15.

The purpose of the investigation was to find whether the pursuits by the officers amounted to criminal conduct.

Loparco found that the officers had acted within the scope of their duties, having tried various means, such as blocking the truck, ramming it and arranging for spike belts, as “he (driver) posed a real and imminent threat to not only the police officers involved, but to other motorists, and it was incumbent upon the police to stop the Complainant and try to eliminate the threat that he posed.”

Loparco also noted the chases were “short-lived and aborted almost as soon as they had begun, in favour of prioritizing public safety over the need to stop the Complainant.”

In the final pursuit before the rollover, the investigation found the chase had been called off, the police cruisers directly involved had pulled off the road and the pickup truck was not in sight when it crashed.

“I cannot find any connection between the actions of the police in attempting to stop the Complainant and the resulting single vehicle crash,” Loparco wrote in his decision.

As such, the officers won’t face any criminal charges.

The 30-year-old man declined to be interviewed by the SIU for the investigation.