The police officer who pursued a teenage boy at Canada’s Wonderland in October had no reason to do so but was not responsible for the fatal collision that took place moments later, according to a report by Ontario’s police watchdog
.Just after 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 13, a York Regional Police officer on patrol in a parking lot at the Vaughan, Ont. amusement park observed the 14-year-old boy cross in front of his cruiser and “decided to stop him,” Special Investigation Unit (SIU), Director Joseph Martino wrote in his finding, released Friday,
At the time of the incident, the SIU said the officer had been aware of suspects of recent robberies reported in the same parking lot. He later told SIU investigators he intended to stop and investigate the boy for robbery.
The officer exited his vehicle and pursued the boy eastbound on foot, according to the report. The boy, aware of the officer, also ran eastbound, it states.
While crossing Jane Street, a driver of a northbound BMW struck the boy. He catapulted off the windshield before making contact with the rear end of a stationary Nissan, the report states.
He was transported to hospital where he died five days later.
While police initially said the boy had displayed “suspicious” behaviour, the SIU’s investigation found that the officer had no reason to pursue or investigate him for robbery.
“Having observed the Complainant running towards Jane Street across his path, the officer told the SIU that it was his intention to stop and investigate him for robbery,” Martino wrote. “The video footage establishes that the Complainant was not, in fact, running as the officer described, but, even if he was, it is doubtful the officer had the lawful authority to detain him for investigation.”
While the officer might have been “justifiably concerned about robberies,” the report found the concern alone inadequate reasoning to stop the boy.
“Be that as it may, I am unable to reasonably conclude that the officer’s conduct was criminally negligent,” Martino wrote. ‘The fact is, the officer never did actually effect an unlawful detention.”
The SIU interviewed five officers and three civilian witnesses as part of the probe. The officer involved agreed to be interviewed, but declined to provide his notes from the incident, as is his legal right, the report states.