Widow whose husband was killed by a speeding OPP officer tol

Lack of competence and ineptitude of police officers, policing styles and methods. In other words, what could be adequately explained by stupidity, should not be attributed to malice.

Widow whose husband was killed by a speeding OPP officer tol

Postby Thomas » Tue Jun 06, 2023 4:27 am

Widow whose husband was killed by a speeding OPP officer told misconduct was ‘not serious’

A grieving widow whose husband was run over and killed by a speeding OPP officer can’t believe the force told her it won’t hold a public hearing into the case because it decided the misconduct was “not serious.”

Courtney D’Arthenay says she was shocked to read those words in a letter from Ontario Provincial Police brass — a decision that narrows potential penalties for the officer involved and leaves her wondering if she will ever get answers to her many outstanding questions in the case.

“My entire life is completely altered in a way I could never imagine. I can’t go back to what it was. It’s the most serious thing when you don’t have a life partner any more,” D’Arthenay told CTV News in an interview.

In response to questions from CTV News, an OPP spokesperson agreed the tone of the response was “cold” — but stood by the decision to resolve the complaint informally.

“The OPP fully acknowledges that the terminology in the response letter…seems cold, considering the incident resulted in a tragic death. Unfortunately that is the only wording available in the Police Services Act to describe conduct that can be resolved informally,” said spokesperson Bill Dickson.

D’Arthenay, who is 37, said she knew after a short time that she and her husband Tyler Dorzyk were soulmates. They lived together in Pembroke, Ont. and Dorzyk, a marine technician by trade, loved mud running and pursuing creative projects.

Around midnight on September 29, 2020, Dorzyk, 35, was run over and killed in Midland, north of Barrie. He was travelling to the city for work and he and a friend were walking across Highway 12 at Jones Road in the rain.

An investigation found Const. Jaimee McBain was driving an unmarked SUV at the time, returning from getting coffee for another officer at a crime scene. She told investigators she didn’t see Dorzyk. She turned the vehicle around and tried to revive him.

The Special Investigations Unit found no reason to charge her criminally, and the OPP didn’t press Highway Traffic Act charges. A photo from the SIU investigation shows a smashed windshield on the passenger's side of the unmarked black SUV.

Another watchdog, the Office of the Independent Police Review Director (OIPRD), did find McBain committed discreditable conduct. The vehicle’s GPS showed she was speeding between 72 km/h and 97 km/h, even though the limit at that intersection was 60 km/h.

The OIPRD found in the report that McBain didn’t follow the OPP’s own procedures.

“By speeding, she did not demonstrate legal, safe and appropriate driving practices to the general public.”

It also substantiated misconduct against an attending office, Sgt. Amy Thompson, who made comments blaming Dorzyk for his own death. Several other misconduct allegations were found to be unsubstantiated.

In its letter to D’Arthenay, the OIPRD said the matter could proceed to a hearing that could levy penalties up to dismissing McBain, unless both D’Arthenay and the OPP agreed to resolve it informally.

But the OPP took the complaint in another direction, which didn’t require D’Arthenay’s consent: it opted to declare the misconduct in the case “not serious”, which by law allows the force to resolve the misconduct informally without a hearing, with lower penalties.

“After careful consideration… it is my decision the misconduct was not of a serious nature and this matter can be addressed informally without holding a hearing,” wrote Supt. Tracy Dobbin of the OPP’s Office of Professionalism, Respect, Inclusion and Leadership.

“This does not in any way minimize the issue you have brought to our attention, but I feel this conduct can be managed without the necessity of holding a formal disciplinary hearing,” Supt. Dobbin wrote. She said disciplinary measures could include counselling, reprimand, loss of pay or a combination.

Lawyer David Shellnutt, who deals with many OIPRD complaints in his practice, said the response doesn’t make sense.

“This is a serious case. A man died,” Shellnutt said in an interview, pointing out that the structure of the legal process allows the OPP to proceed informally even after a substantiated misconduct and without the consent of the complainant.

“This is the police policing themselves. They are ultimately in charge of the whole process,” he said.

Jess Spieker of Family and Friends for Safe Streets, said the act of minimizing the seriousness of the officer’s actions — which she said happens too often in traffic fatalities — can often retraumatize someone who is already suffering from the loss of a loved one.

“You would hope that the police would take this seriously enough to hold the officer accountable. But they’ve used the lack of seriousness, which society treats pedestrian deaths, to excuse the officer of significant wrongdoing. That’s morally reprehensible. I think normal person would hear this story and be appalled,” Spieker said.

Spieker called for a change to the road design to make it less likely anyone would speed at that spot, and called for changes to the Highway Traffic Act that would impose significant penalties for driving offences that result in death.

“It would get across the gravity and the extraordinary seriousness of killing a human being with your vehicle,” she said.

The letter from the OIPRD does say the OPP must notify the agency of what the punishment is. But it doesn’t guarantee that D’Arthenay will be told.

CTV News asked the OIPRD if their regular policy was to inform complainants of the outcome of discipline, and was told they could not comment thanks to a section in the Police Services Act — but couldn’t point to the section of the Act that would apply and refused to engage further.

McBain did not response to messages from CTV News.

D’Arthenay said she is left imagining what a hearing that might bring some justice for her husband would be like — and hoping that even without the hearing, she could tell McBain directly that the consequences of this crash are incredibly serious.

“I would tell her I’m sure she didn’t intend to do this. I don’t think any person goes out and says I’m going to run over a pedestrian today,” D’Arthenay said.

“But the choice she made, to be speeding as a professional driver, she fundamentally didn’t uphold what we count on her to do as a community. And the ramifications of her choices are irreparable. Not just to myself, but to Tyler’s family, the ripple effects, and I would hope I would give somehow her some sense of the consequences of her choices,” she said.

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Widow takes Ontario police to court over declaration miscond

Postby Thomas » Sat Dec 16, 2023 3:13 pm

Widow takes Ontario police to court over declaration misconduct in her husband's death was 'not serious'

A grieving widow is taking the Ontario Provincial Police to court as she challenges its decision to call the misconduct of an officer that contributed to her husband’s death “not of a serious nature” – a decision that denied her access to a public hearing in the case.

A CTV News investigation shows that the OPP has declared misconduct by its own officers not serious about 80 per cent of the time in the last five years, and sends identical paragraphs that don’t explain its reasoning in cases from neglect of duty to unlawful use of force.

Courtney D’Arthenay said she couldn’t believe she received a boilerplate letter informing her that the OPP would resolve her complaint without a hearing after an officer accidentally struck and killed her husband Tyler Dorzyk while speeding near Barrie in 2020.

“Going through life without Tyler is very difficult,” D'Arthenay said in an interview. “I’ve found it’s been getting worse with time and a huge part of that is due to the fact that I’m being told this isn’t serious. It’s not a big deal,” she said.

“I just don’t want someone else to be going through this when you’re already in a really horrible time. We can afford a little bit of respect and give people actual justification and reasons,” she said.

D’Arthenay launched a judicial review in Oshawa Superior Court last month, asking the court to declare the misconduct serious, which would allow her to participate in a disciplinary hearing, and widen the scope of possible disciplinary actions the officer, Const. Jaimee McBain, could receive.

It was only through the court application that they discovered the result of the disciplinary proceeding for McBain: non-disciplinary counselling, her application says.

Her lawyer, Justin Safayeni, said the OPP needs to explain its reasoning publicly.

“When you’re making that kind of consequential decision, the bare minimum that is required is a degree of transparency and explanation as to why you were making that decision. And we say that simply wasn’t provided in this case,” he said.

“Our concern is that the door was shut on that process in a way that was not explained. And we say that was not justifiable,” he said.

Dorzyk died around midnight on September 28, 2020, when he and a friend were walking across Highway 12 at Jones Road in Midland, Ontario. He was travelling to the city for work and crossed against the light in the rain in the dark.

An investigation found McBain was driving an unmarked SUV at the time, returning from getting coffee for another officer at a crime scene. She told investigators she didn’t see Dorzyk. She turned the vehicle around and tried to revive him.

McBain wasn’t charged criminally by the Special Investigations Unit, and the OPP didn’t press Highway Traffic Act charges. A photo from the SIU investigation shows a smashed windshield on the passenger’s side of the unmarked black SUV.

Another watchdog, the Office of the Independent Police Review Director (OIPRD) did find McBain committed discreditable conduct, saying she was speeding between 72 and 97 km/h, even though the speed limit had dropped from 80 km/h to 60 km/h in the run-up to the intersection, where Dorzyk was hit.

Questions from CTV News to Solicitor-General Michael Kerzner were referred to the OPP, which didn’t respond. The force has said in the past that the language of “not serious” is in the Police Services Act.

A freedom of information request shows that of 92 decisions from 2018 to 2022, 63 were declared “less serious” by the OPP, and 16 were declared “serious”. The OIPRD made a declaration in 13 cases.

That means that, when deciding on its own officers, the OPP declared misconduct not serious about 80 per cent of the time, the figures show.

CTV News also asked for several years’ worth of letters the OPP sent to complainants to inform them of the result in the case. In 20 letters, one paragraph was repeated verbatim. The paragraph reads:

“After careful consideration, on behalf of Commissioner Thomas Carrique, and in accordance with subsection 66(4) of the Police Services Act, it is my decision the misconduct was not of a serious nature and this matter can be addressed informally. In cases of substantiated misconduct I consider many mitigating and aggravating factors to determine the seriousness. These factors may include, but are not limited to: the public interest, intentions of the officer, consistency of dispositions, acknowledgement/remorse of the officer, any personal gain on behalf of the officer, a lack of understanding, the consequences/impact of the misconduct, employment history, deceit/dishonesty, duration of misconduct (single incident or protracted over time), rank and where the behaviour falls on the spectrum of misconduct. This does not in any way minimize the issue you have brought to our attention, but I feel this conduct can be managed without the necessity of holding a formal disciplinary hearing. Dealing with the matter informally includes a wide variety of possible corrective action and can involve such outcomes as but is not limited to: Non-disciplinary corrective discussion with the officers involved and training; Documentation in the officer’s personnel file; The loss of a number of paid hours from the officer involved; Or a combination of the above.”

In one letter, the paragraph was repeated twice, for two officers. In two other letters, only part of that paragraph was written.

The letters do not include details of the incidents, but describe the findings of substantiated misconduct in cases of neglect of duty, discreditable conduct, and unlawful use of force.

The boilerplate nature of the paragraphs are concerning, said the Ontario NDP’s critic for the solicitor-general, John Vanthof.

“For these families, this is the most traumatic thing that is likely going to happen to them in their lives. To get a form letter is not sufficient,” he said.

That paragraph was contained in the letter to D’Arthenay, who says she hopes that her suit prompts the OPP to reconsider cutting her out of the disciplinary process, but also to update its policies and take seriously its obligation to explain its decisions.

"One would hope that a victory in this case would send the broader message that this type of decision making at the very least has to be accompanied by a set of reasons and an explanation that leaves the recipient of these decisions and these letters in a position to understand what happened, even if they don't agree with it," Safayeni said.

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