B.C.’s independent police watchdog has determined that a Victoria police officer did not commit any offence while trying to stop a pickup truck prior to a crash on Bay Street.
Shortly after midnight on Aug. 24, 2019, a driver of a white pickup truck hit three other vehicles at the intersection of Douglas and Bay streets. As one person was seriously injured in the crash and there had been an interaction between a VicPD officer and the pickup truck that struck the injured person’s car, prior to the crash, the Independent Investigation Office (IIO) launched an investigation.
According to the IIO report, the man who was seriously injured told investigators that shortly after midnight on Aug. 24, he was driving between work locations south on Douglas Street. When he was going through a green light into the intersection at Bay Street, his car was struck by a driver in a white pickup truck. The man’s car rolled several times, ending up on its roof.
The man exited through a window and attempted to stand before realizing he was injured. Bystanders came over to help and the man then saw emergency lights. He was taken by ambulance to the hospital.
The man told IIO investigators before the crash, he did not see emergency lights and did not hear sirens.
The IIO said the white pickup truck failed to stop for a VicPD officer near Gorge Road East and Rock Bay Avenue. The officer followed for two to three blocks but then switched off his emergency lights, turned onto John Street and radioed that he was not pursuing. A witness told IIO that it looked like the pickup truck “would kill somebody, the way it was being driven.” The witness said the police vehicle following the truck was driving much more slowly.
The IIO said the pickup truck continued south then turned left onto Bay Street. Other officers were patrolling in the area but none were in sight of the pickup truck as it sped east on Bay Street than ran a red light at Government Street before continuing onto Douglas Street, colliding with the injured man’s car.
Video of the collision at the intersection shows that no emergency lights were visible at the time and no police vehicle was in pursuit of the truck.
The IIO said within a short time, three Victoria police officers, including the one who had originally pursued the pickup truck, arrived at the scene. They found the pickup truck and the injured man’s car, along with two other vehicles that were heavily damaged. The report states the man had a broken ankle and the driver of the other two vehicles suffered lesser injuries. A bystander was also struck but not significantly injured, the IIO said.
The driver of the pickup truck fled before police arrived but was arrested several blocks away.
The IIO concluded the Victoria police officer did not commit any offence by engaging in an unjustified pursuit of the white pickup truck.
“The evidence collected makes it clear that Officer 1 did not more than attempt a Motor Vehicle Act traffic stop and made the appropriate decision not to pursue when the pickup fled at high speed. Officer 1 turned off his emergency lights, slowed and turned off onto a side street. What happened after that was the direct result of the actions of the pickup’s driver,” IIO Chief Civilian Director Ronald MacDonald wrote.
“Accordingly, as the Chief Civilian Director of the IIO, I do not consider that there are reasonable grounds to believe that an officer may have committed an offence under any enactment and therefore the matter will not be referred to Crown counsel for consideration of charges.”