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Widow told misconduct 'not serious' after husband killed by speeding OPP 'outrageous,' critics say

Ontario’s political leaders reacted with surprise that the OPP told a widow whose husband was run over and killed by a speeding officer that the misconduct in the case was “not serious.”

The decision — which narrows potential penalties for the officer involved and eliminates the chance of a public hearing in the death of Tyler Dorzyk — runs counter to the principle that all deaths should be taken seriously, according to opposition Members of Provincial Parliament (MPP).

“It’s outrageous. Of course the widow should not have been told that her husband’s death was not serious. That’s very troubling,” said Ontario NDP leader Marit Stiles, when asked at a media availability at Queens Park.

And the Ontario Liberals’ Stephen Blais said, “I think all deaths are serious and the fact that language was used is unfortunate.”

Reached at the legislature, Ontario’s solicitor-general, Michael Kerzner, deferred to the OPP itself, saying, “I’ve said many times we’ve never had a government in our generation that’s more concerned about public safety, but on that specific matter, you’ve got to go the OPP.”

Dorzyk, 35, was killed around midnight in September 2020 in Midland as he and a friend crossed Highway 12 at night 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.

McBain said she didn’t see Dorzyk and after the collision turned around and tried to revive him. The Special Investigations Unit found no reason to charge her criminally and the OPP didn’t lay any Highway Traffic Act charges.

Officers investigate after a pedestrian was fatally struck by an OPP cruiser in 2020. Another watchdog, the Office of the Independent Police Review Director (OIPRD) substantiated misconduct in the case because the vehicle’s GPS showed she was speeding between 72 and 97 km/h even though the speed limit at the intersection dropped to 60 km/h.

Dorzyk’s widow, Courtney D’Arthenay, had not consented to an informal resolution of the case and was expecting a public hearing. But in a letter the OPP’s Office of Professionalism, Respect, Inclusion and Leadership told her there would be no hearing because it had decided the misconduct in the case was not serious.

“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.

“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.

D’Arthenay said the letter was difficult to read — because at a minimum she wanted the force and Const. McBain herself to understand the serious impact the collision has had on her life.

“There’s no consequences from the SIU, the OPP — and now the commissioner is telling her it’s not serious. Why would she think it’s serious?” D’Arthenay said.

Midland’s mayor, Bill Gordon, who himself is a former special constable in Midland, said that he was disappointed in how the case was handled.

“Here we have a fatality. It doesn’t get more serious in my book,” he said.

Gordon said that the “not serious” designation changed only the maximum penalties that McBain could have faced, and given that the death was clearly unintentional, it’s not likely she would have faced anything near the maximum penalties.

He said given the circumstances and the conditions, he’s not sure he would have been able to avoid Dorzyk if he had been driving that night.

But Gordon said he is sure as a civilian he would have faced consequences, and said people expect police officers to be treated the same way. Any moves by the force that undermine the confidence in the police force should be avoided, he said.

“The reality is I would be held accountable for that accident, as it was deemed to be, and there are consequences when you have an accident,” he said.

In a statement, the OPP did agree the terminology was “cold” but stood by its decision to resolve the case informally.

Const. McBain did not respond to messages from CTV News. Top Stories

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