Ottawa

SIU clears Ottawa officer who led chase before fatal hit and run

Ontario's Special Investigations Unit (SIU) has cleared an Ottawa police officer who'd been chasing a vehicle that was later involved in a fatal hit and run in Westboro last spring.

Officer 'rightfully' ended brief pursuit before pedestrian struck, police watchdog finds

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A daughter of hit-and-run victim Franco Micucci left this note at the scene of the collision. The driver who struck Micucci had earlier been pursued by Ottawa police, triggering an investigation by the Special Investigations Unit. (Guy Quenneville/CBC)

Ontario's Special Investigations Unit (SIU) has cleared an Ottawa police officer who'd been chasing a vehicle that was later involved in a fatal hit and run in Westboro last spring.

On April 15, 2023, Franco Micucci, 46, and his wife were crossing a north-south crosswalk at the corner of Richmond Road and Kirkwood Avenue when Tevon Bacquain, who'd been fleeing police, struck Micucci with his vehicle and fled. 

Micucci never regained consciousness and died in hospital.

Minutes before the collision, Bacquain was being followed by Ottawa police officers who suspected him of participating in an alleged drug deal.  

The investigation by the province's police watchdog focused on the police officer who led the brief chase, and whether that officer's actions endangered public safety.

In a decision released Monday, SIU director Joseph Martino found there were no grounds for criminal charges against the unnamed officer, pointing out that the chase had been called off before Bacquain's fatal collision with Micucci.

Franco Micucci, the pedestrian who died after a collision in Westboro on April 15, is seen here in a photo provided by his family.
Micucci is seen here in a photo provided by his family. (Submitted)

'He's gonna hit somebody,' officer warned 

According to Martino's report, a member of an Ottawa Police Service (OPS) surveillance team reported at 7:25 p.m. that a drug deal had occurred and called for Bacquain's car to be followed.

Police tried to box Bacquain's vehicle in at the intersection of Carling Avenue and Merivale Road, but he sped away north on Kirkwood, blowing through red lights and driving on the wrong side of the road toward Richmond, Martino wrote.

The officer who was under investigation followed Bacquain with his emergency lights and sirens off. 

That same officer is believed to have told others over the police radio that he was going to call off the chase, and advised his colleagues to kill their lights, too. 

Another unidentified officer said over the radio, "It ain't worth it, man. He's gonna hit somebody."

At 7:30 p.m., Bacquain veered onto the crosswalk at Richmond Road and struck Micucci when the couple was halfway across the intersection. 

View of the scene north on Kirkwood Avenue at the Richmond Road intersection
The SIU report includes this photo of the collision scene at Kirkwood Avenue and Richmond Road. (SIU)

Police officers including the subject officer arrived at the collision scene 30 seconds later, having already ended the chase "when it was apparent the driver was not going to stop."

"None of the officers involved transgressed the limits of care in the course of a brief pursuit that was discontinued prior to the collision" and were "within their rights in initiating a pursuit," according to the report. 

"Once it became clear that [Bacquain] was not going to stop, the officer, rightfully in my view, called an end to the pursuit," Martino concluded. 

"Thereafter, he and the other officers continued [in Bacquain's direction] but were not close to the vehicle in distance or time when the collision occurred."

Bacquain pleaded guilty last December to flight from police and failing to remain causing death. A charge of dangerous driving causing death was dropped. 

He is next slated to appear in court Feb. 8.

The SIU investigates incidents involving police in Ontario where there's been death, serious injury or sexual assault, or if shots have been fired.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Guy Quenneville

Reporter at CBC Ottawa

Guy Quenneville is a reporter at CBC Ottawa born and raised in Cornwall, Ont. He can be reached at guy.quenneville@cbc.ca

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