Police watchdog clears police in attempted Moosomin, Sask., traffic stop that left 4 injured

Saskatchewan's Serious Incident Response Team (SIRT) has released its report into into a crash on Moosomin First Nation on May 27, 2023. (Jeff Stapleton/CBC - image credit)
Saskatchewan's Serious Incident Response Team (SIRT) has released its report into into a crash on Moosomin First Nation on May 27, 2023. (Jeff Stapleton/CBC - image credit)

Saskatchewan's police watchdog has cleared RCMP of any wrongdoing in an attempted traffic stop that left four people injured after a vehicle roll over.

The report, released on Thursday, details the investigation by the Serious Incident Response Team (SIRT) into a crash on Moosomin First Nation on May 27, 2023.

SIRT is a civilian-led independent organization is responsible for looking into serious incidents involving police officers in Saskatchewan such as death, injury or sexual assault.

What happened

SIRT's report lays out the following chain of events:

An RCMP officer had been called to Moosomin First Nation for an unrelated incident.

After departing the scene of the original call, the officer was driving in a marked police vehicle and a black Cheverolet Cruze exit a school parking lot at a high speed.

The vehicle entered the parking lot of a gas bar, then quickly re-entered the road.

Once the Cruze sped through a stop sign, the officer followed onto a grid road and activated their lights to pull the Cruze over.

The Cruze continued down the grid road at a high speed. When it became clear that the vehicle was not going to stop the RCMP officer began decelerating and deactivated their vehicle's emergency lights, the report says.

That entire process from activating their lights to coming to a stop took about a minute, SIRT found.

The Cruze began kicking up a cloud of dust and the vehicle eventually veered into the oncoming lane of the road, before correcting back into the right lane.

A collision reconstruction found that at the time of the crash the Cruze was travelling approximately 134 km/h, well above the posted speed limit of 80 km/h.

The Cruze's swerving caused it to roll as it entered the ditch on the right side of the road, the report says. As the vehicle rolled, the two rear passengers were ejected. They were not wearing seat belts.

The Cruze eventually came to a stop right-side up on its four wheels. The driver was able to exit the vehicle unassisted while the front seat passenger was eventually removed by the RCMP officer when they arrived at the scene.

SIRT found the RCMP immediately called for EMS and STARS Air ambulance before leaving their vehicle and triaging the four passengers who had been in the Cruze.

A second RCMP officer arrived on the scene to assist with first aid just before EMS arrived, the report says.

All four people that had been in the vehicle were eventually transported to the hospital.

The impact

SIRT reviewed medical records and determined that the two people ejected from the vehicle suffered unspecified but "significant, life-altering injuries."

The front seat passenger sustained a broken arm and dislocated elbow while the driver did not sustain any serious injuries.

SIRT was called in to investigate later on the day of the crash.

As part of the SIRT investigation, nine civilians were interviewed. That includes the four occupants of the vehicle that rolled, the four EMS personnel that responded to the scene and a person that lived near the route the vehicle travelled.

The driver of the Cruze and the front seat passenger both told investigators that the accident was caused when a vehicle — identified as a white truck — struck their vehicle behind, knocking it off the road.

Although neither witness explicitly identified the vehicle as a police vehicle, the front seat passenger said that police had been behind the Cruze with their lights on prior to the roll-over.

SIRT found that there was no evidence to support the suggestion that an RCMP vehicle had caused the roll-over.

The independent watchdog seized and reviewed the the video from the RCMP officer's vehicle, which captured the entire event. It showed the police vehicle stopping before the roll-over occurred, the report says.

SIRT said it found there was "no reasonable basis to conclude that the actions of police caused or contributed to the collision."

SIRT interviewed the officer who engaged in the pursuit and the officer who arrived after the crash. Their testimony was found to be credible and match up with the vehicle's video and the collision reconstruction.

SIRT ruled that the RCMP officer had a lawful reason to conduct the traffic stop on the Cruze and acted appropriately when disengaging from the chase.