Local police cleared by SIU 0
The Special Investigation's Unit is investigating the death of a man in police custody at 250 McKenzie St. in Pembroke.
An officer with the Pembroke Police Service and two officers with the Upper Ottawa Valley OPP have been cleared of any criminal liability for their parts in two separate incidents here.
Ontario’s Special Investigations Unit (SIU) posted the notices on its website Thursday.
The SIU is an arm’s-length agency that investigates reports involving police where there has been death, serious injury or allegations of sexual assault.
In the Pembroke investigation, police were called to a residence on Pembroke Street East on Sunday, July 1 shortly after 8 p.m.
Upon arrival, officers saw a 19-year-old man covered in blood and bleeding heavily from the mouth. He was aggressive with the subject officer, and was finally grounded with the help of other officers, who handcuffed him and carried him down the stairs to the sidewalk. He was then transported to hospital by ambulance and succumbed to his injuries on July 4.
In his decision, SIU director Ian Scott said “there are no reasonable grounds to believe that the subject officer committed a criminal offence in relation to the death of the man.”
Mr. Scott said the results of the investigation and the post-mortem autopsy made it clear the victim died of a self-inflicted wound caused prior to the arrival of the officers.
In the decision involving two members of the UOV OPP, the SIU assigned four investigators, two forensic investigators and a collision reconstructionist to look into the circumstances of an incident that occurred in the late afternoon hours on Tuesday, May 22.
Shadi Al-Akbari, 26, and Neil Clarence Blain, 29, suffered injuries in a collision that day following a high-speed pursuit that began in Arnprior and ended in the collision near the Canadian Pacific Railway overpass near Petawawa after Mr. Al-Akbari’s vehicle passed over a spike belt at a high rate of speed and veered into the eastbound lane, causing a head-on collision with Mr. Blain’s vehicle, which was stopped at a light.
The reconstructionist concluded that Mr. Al-Akbari’s vehicle was travelling at least 122 km/hr five seconds before the impact.
Mr. Blain sustained serious injuries including a fractured hip, ankle and knee, as well as three upper-leg fractures and a concussion. The extent of Mr. Al-Akbari’s injuries is unknown because he declined to provide the SIU with a signed medical release form.
Director Scott said “the first subject officer was in compliance with the suspect apprehension regulation to the Police Services Act,” adding that “he had the authority to pursue the suspect vehicle after receiving information the driver had committed a criminal offence and refused to stop after being directed to do so.”
He continued “the officer discontinued his pursuit when it was too dangerous to continue.”
Director Scott continued, “With respect to the deployment of the spike belt, the OPP Traffic Enforcement Orders permit its use in these circumstances.
“The subject officer received permission to use the spike belt from the sergeant in charge of the Provincial Communications Centre. Its deployment, in my view, could not be considered to be criminally negligent because Mr. Al-Akbari was driving his vehicle in a very dangerous manner shortly before the collision, appeared to have no intention of stopping, and represented a serious threat to public safety.
“Further, while I do not have the benefit of a statement from the subject officer who deployed the spike belt, I infer that he placed the belt at the east side of the overpass to take advantage of the concrete barrier which, so the subject officer may have thought, would safely direct Mr. Al-Akbari’s vehicle away from oncoming traffic.
“Also, the fact that he could place the spike belt across the roadway meant that Mr. Al-Akbari could not avoid it by changing lanes.
“In my view, the deployment of the spike belt at this location was a reasonable decision. Tragically, a major vehicle collision followed, causing life threatening injuries to Mr. Blain.
“All in all, I am of the view that Mr. Al-Akbari was largely the author of his own misfortune in causing this devastating collision. Accordingly, I cannot form reasonable grounds that either subject officer committed a criminal offence in relation to this motor vehicle collision.”
Under the Police Services Act, the director of the SIU must consider whether an officer has committed a criminal offence in connection with the incident under investigation depending on the evidence, lay a criminal charge against the officer if appropriate, or close the file without any charges being laid and report the results of any investigations to the Attorney General.
Peter Lapinskie is managing editor of The Daily Observer.