A neglect of duty charge against two city police officers stemming from the death of Matt Howard investigation , a Sault Ste. Marie teen killed in a pedestrian / vehicle collision has been overturned by the Ontario Civilian Police Commission.
Const. Darren Sirie and acting Sergent William Freeman will now face a new hearing in what some believe, including the family of Matt Howard, was a botched investigation against the driver of the vehicle, Joseph Biocchi.
Howard, 19 and his girlfriend were walking on the side of Queen Street East near Lorna Drive in the early morning hours of February 28, 2010. Howard was struck by a vehicle and killed.
As a result of the investigation , four city police officers Art Pluss, Joseph Trudeau, Darren Sirie and William Freeman were originally charged under the Police Services Act citing the officers at the scene did not administer a roadside breath test on Biocchi. Biocchi admitted to officers that he had been drinking.
All four officers were cleared of charges in January of this year by hearing officer, Terence Kelly who is now retired, citing statements from Biocchi was not grounds for police to demand a breath sample. Ontario court of Appeal ruled that a driver's duty to report an accident under the Highway Traffic Act can not be used to incriminate them.
That ruling however was overturned on Monday by panelists, David C. Gavsie, Chair Dave Edwards, Vice Chair which claims Biocchi's statement did not fall under the appeal court's decision.
According to records, Biocchi did the following after the accident on February 28, 2010.
a. Stopping his vehicle a short distance after impact;
b. Making a U-turn and returning to the immediate area of the accident;
c. Calling 9-1-1 and reporting that he believed that he hit a pedestrian; and
d.Remaining on the scene and answering all of the questions
provided reasonable grounds upon which the Hearing Officer could conclude that Mr. Biocchi subjectively believed that he was required by law to report the accident and remain at the scene.
He was originally charged with careless driving and failing to drive in a marked lane but those charges were dismissed because of a lack of evidence to prove the allegations beyond a reasonable doubt
Further, the OCPC upheld the dismissal of charges against Pluss and Trudeau but revoked the dismissal of charges on Sirie and Freeman. "We revoke the Hearing Officer’s decision to dismiss the charges against Consts. Sirie and Freeman, and we remit the matter back to him to continue the hearing." as published Monday on the OCPC website.
Pat Nisbett, mother of the deceased appealed the dismissal of charges to the OPCP
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Matt Howard Hearing to Resume
Craig Huckerby for local2 sault ste. marie
October 17th, 2012 at 2:45pm | Last Updated at 4:18pm