The Independent Investigations Office has cleared Vancouver police officers involved in an attempted traffic stop earlier this year in which an occupant of a car fractured her sternum in a collision.
The accident occurred Jan. 17 after police attempted to stop a Honda Civic with four occupants inside after it left a gas station near East Cordova Street and didn’t stop for police.
“It was the actions of the driver, encouraged by the car’s occupants, which caused the collision, not the actions of the police,” said the IIO report released April 30.
“Although the police commenced to intercept the vehicle, the driver chose to not stop and instead sped ahead, which resulted in a motor vehicle crash. All evidence indicates that police actions were lawful and proportionate under the circumstances.”
The IIO is not releasing whether the injured female was the driver of the Honda. Chief Civilian Director Ronald MacDonald explained to the Courier that the case, which resulted in the suspected driver being charged, is still before the courts.
“In order to effectively protect the fair trial interests of the individual—even though we don’t name the person—we determined not to put that into our report,” MacDonald said
The Honda displayed a “new driver” decal at the time of the accident. New drivers are limited to have only one passenger on board, as stated in the Motor Vehicle Act, the report noted.
“Officers conducted a traffic query and attempted to stop the Honda,” the report said. “It did not stop, but instead picked up speed and ran a stop sign at East Cordova Street. The vehicle collided with another civilian vehicle and a street sign before it came to a rest.”
There were no obvious signs of injury to the occupants of the Honda, the report said. However, police arrested all four and transported them to hospital as a precaution.
It wasn’t until the next day, when one of the occupants was examined again that it was determined she had suffered a fractured sternum, the report said.
IIO investigators interviewed the female about the accident. She said she was in the Honda when it pulled out of a gas station shortly before a marked police vehicle changed lanes to get behind it.
The officer driving the police vehicle activated the emergency lights and directed the Honda to “please pull over.” The female told investigators the Honda was coming to a stop but the passengers called out, “run, you can get away.”
The Honda accelerated rapidly and the female saw that it was about to collide with another vehicle entering the intersection. She had no time to call out before the two vehicles collided, the report said.
“[The female] explained that the police officers assisted occupants out of the Honda,” the report said. “[The female] stated that the officers involved were polite and helpful and they were ‘just doing what cops do.’”