The Office of the Independent Police Review Director of Ontario (OIPRD) is looking into a complaint involving the Chatham-Kent OPP’s handling of a fatal pedestrian collision on the Delaware Nation of Maraviantown following an episode of APTN Investigates.
“The Crash” aired in January 2018 and highlighted the police investigation into a Nov. 19, 2016 motor vehicle-pedestrian collision that killed 16-year-old Bailey Jacobs, and left 24-year-old Tanner White Eye paralyzed and 17-year-old Jordi White Eye injured.
Jacob’s grandmother Alma filed the complaint, which must be done in order for the OIPRD to launch an investigation.
“It’s a good thing,” said Tanner’s mother Yolanda White Eye, who has had to retrofit her home to care for her son. “I hope it leads to police being responsible for their investigation.
“We see this across the country with our people and the injustice of so many police investigations, nobody is held accountable.”
White Eye points out the fact that in Saskatchewan where the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission has launched a review of the RCMP’s handling of the Colten Boushie shooting. Boushie, 22, was shot by Gerald Stanley, 56, on Aug. 9, 2016, when he and four other young people from the Red Pheasant Cree Nation trespassed onto Stanley’s farm.
The driver of the vehicle that paralyzed her son was Brayden Hopkins – also a member of the Delaware Nation.
He was a young hockey hero and summer police cadet.
The Chatham-Kent OPP determined there’d be no charges against Hopkins.
Police determined that Hopkins was driving with his high beams on, and one of the men struck was carried for 50 metres before he came to a stop.
In the end, the family says the police investigation failed to paint a true picture of what happened that night on the rural road and in the end raised more questions than answers.
Not long after the collision, Hopkins was allowed to move to Sweden to play pro hockey while the investigation was ongoing.
APTN obtained a copy of the traffic reconstruction report but the OPP refused to answer questions about it or be interviewed about the crash or the investigation.
To make sense of the report, APTN retained the services of retired Winnipeg traffic investigator Damian Turner who reviewed it.
“Very basic investigative techniques weren’t included in the report,” Turner said. “It’s just totally lacking in any detail. I would be incredulous that they would believe that was a proper and thorough investigation,”
Watch here to see Damian Turner go through the collision report.
APTN spoke with several people who claim the driver was ignored by police at the scene and left to himself for up to an hour.
Turner explained the problem with that:
“The person who was driving the car and the condition they’re in at that time, if they have been drinking or have drugs in their body, their behavior, the smells, the way they look — that all forms evidence and that needs to be preserved and the only way to do that is to detain them while you conduct your investigation,” he said.
In an audio recording obtained by APTN from a meeting with survivors and their families, an OPP officer says, “Five separate police officers dealt with Brayden that night and even after driving from Moraviantown to the Chatham-Kent detachment with the heat on, not one of them observed any alcohol odor.”
As such, the driver was ordered to take a breathalyzer test.
“Based on the lack of information in the report we’ll never know,” Turner said. To an ordinary person traveling down a dark road at relatively low speed you shouldn’t miss three people walking ahead of you on the roadway.”
APTN asked the Crown Attorney’s office why it recommended no charges in the case – whether it was lack of evidence a crime was committed, or if the police investigation was insufficient to proceed.
They said their reasons are “privileged and confidential.”
The Office of the Independent Police Review Director now looks into the complaint and determines if the investigation needs to be investigated.
Alma Jacobs said she’s “hopeful” there will be some closure and accountability.