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Hamilton Police officer cleared in connection to pursuit that resulted in injury: watchdog

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Hamilton Police officer cleared in connection to pursuit that resulted in injury: watchdog

A Hamilton Police officer has been cleared by Ontario’s police watchdog in an incident where a man evading capture was injured during a short pursuit in late 2020.

On the afternoon of Oct. 12, 2020, Hamilton Police were called to the scene of a collision involving a motorcycle in the area of Hope Street in the northeast end of the city.

According to the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) report on the incident, the driver of the motorcycle, a woman, was using her boyfriend’s bike when she hit a car.

In the wake of the accident, the boyfriend came to collect the motorcycle and fled the scene on it before police arrived.

A short time later, the man was spotted on Ottawa Street N and police flashed their lights and attempted to follow the suspect.

A low-speed pursuit ensued and eventually the suspect lost control of the motorcycle and hit a fence on Craigmiller Ave. and a parked car.

The suspect then tried to escape on foot but was captured quickly in a backyard not far away.

The SIU report says that the suspect complained of pain in his right hand and he was taken to hospital where he was diagnosed with a fractured finger. As a result of the injury, SIU was called in to investigate the actions of the responding officer.

“The offence that arises for consideration is dangerous driving causing bodily harm,” the SIU report cited as the reason for invoking its mandate.

In outlining the decision to not pursue charges against the Hamilton Police officer, the SIU’s director notes that the officer’s decision to engage in a pursuit was somewhat problematic due to public safety concerns, but that under the circumstances, his actions were reasonable.

“In the final analysis, when the pros and cons of the SO’s (subject officer) conduct are weighed in the balance, I am not persuaded with any degree of confidence that the officer’s shortcomings were such as to render his driving a marked departure from a reasonable level of care in the circumstances,” the report, signed by director Joseph Martino, concluded.

“Accordingly, there is no basis for proceeding with criminal charges and the file is closed.”

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