Widow whose husband was killed by speeding Ontario police officer told misconduct was 'not serious'
A grieving widow whose husband was run over and killed by a speeding Ontario Provincial Police officer can’t believe the force told her it won’t hold a public hearing into the case because it decided the misconduct was "not serious."
Courtney D’Arthenay said she was shocked to read those words in a letter from OPP brass — a decision that narrows potential penalties for the officer involved and leaves her wondering if she will ever get answers to her many outstanding questions in the case.
“My entire life is completely altered in a way I could never imagine. I can’t go back to what it was. It’s the most serious thing when you don’t have a life partner any more,” D’Arthenay said in an interview.
In response to questions from CTV News Toronto, an OPP spokesperson agreed the tone of the response was "cold" — but stood by the decision to resolve the complaint informally.
“The OPP fully acknowledges that the terminology in the response letter…seems cold, considering the incident resulted in a tragic death. Unfortunately, that is the only wording available in the Police Services Act to describe conduct that can be resolved informally,” said spokesperson Bill Dickson.
- Download our app to get local alerts on your device
- Get the latest local updates right to your inbox
D’Arthenay, who is 37, said she knew after a short time that she and her husband Tyler Dorzyk were soulmates. They lived together in Pembroke, Ont. and Dorzyk, a marine technician by trade, loved mud running and pursuing creative projects.
Around midnight on September 29, 2020, Dorzyk, 35, was run over and killed in Midland, north of Barrie. He was travelling to the city for work and he and a friend were walking across Highway 12 at Jones Road 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. She told investigators she didn’t see Dorzyk. She turned the vehicle around and tried to revive him.
The Special Investigations Unit found no reason to charge her criminally, and the OPP didn’t press Highway Traffic Act charges. A photo from the SIU investigation shows a smashed windshield on the passenger's side of the unmarked black SUV.
An OPP cruiser involved in a fatal collision with a pedestrian on Sept. 29, 2020.
Another watchdog, the Office of the Independent Police Review Director (OIPRD), did find McBain committed discreditable conduct. The vehicle’s GPS showed she was speeding between 72 km/h and 97 km/h, even though the limit at that intersection was 60 km/h.
The OIPRD found in the report that McBain didn’t follow the OPP’s own procedures.
“By speeding, she did not demonstrate legal, safe and appropriate driving practices to the general public.”
It also substantiated misconduct against an attending office, Sgt. Amy Thompson, who made comments blaming Dorzyk for his own death. Several other misconduct allegations were found to be unsubstantiated.
In its letter to D’Arthenay, the OIPRD said the matter could proceed to a hearing that could levy penalties up to dismissing McBain, unless both D’Arthenay and the OPP agreed to resolve it informally.
Officers investigate after a pedestrian was fatally struck by an OPP cruiser in 2020.
But the OPP took the complaint in another direction, which didn’t require D’Arthenay’s consent: it opted to declare the misconduct in the case “not serious”, which by law allows the force to resolve the misconduct informally without a hearing, with lower penalties.
“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 of the OPP’s Office of Professionalism, Respect, Inclusion and Leadership.
“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.
Lawyer David Shellnutt, who deals with many OIPRD complaints in his practice, said the response doesn’t make sense.
“This is a serious case. A man died,” Shellnutt said in an interview, pointing out that the structure of the legal process allows the OPP to proceed informally even after a substantiated misconduct and without the consent of the complainant.
“This is the police policing themselves. They are ultimately in charge of the whole process,” he said.
Jess Spieker of Family and Friends for Safe Streets, said the act of minimizing the seriousness of the officer’s actions — which she said happens too often in traffic fatalities — can often retraumatize someone who is already suffering from the loss of a loved one.
“You would hope that the police would take this seriously enough to hold the officer accountable. But they’ve used the lack of seriousness, which society treats pedestrian deaths, to excuse the officer of significant wrongdoing. That’s morally reprehensible. I think normal person would hear this story and be appalled,” Spieker said.
Spieker called for a change to the road design to make it less likely anyone would speed at that spot, and called for changes to the Highway Traffic Act that would impose significant penalties for driving offences that result in death.
“It would get across the gravity and the extraordinary seriousness of killing a human being with your vehicle,” she said.
The letter from the OIPRD does say the OPP must notify the agency of what the punishment is. But it doesn’t guarantee that D’Arthenay will be told.
CTV News asked the OIPRD if their regular policy was to inform complainants of the outcome of discipline, and was told they could not comment thanks to a section in the Police Services Act — but couldn’t point to the section of the Act that would apply and refused to engage further.
McBain did not respond to messages from CTV News.
Tyler Dorzyk and Courtney D’Arthenay are seen in this undated photograph.
D’Arthenay said she is left imagining what a hearing that might bring some justice for her husband would be like — and hoping that even without the hearing, she could tell McBain directly that the consequences of this crash are incredibly serious.
“I would tell her I’m sure she didn’t intend to do this. I don’t think any person goes out and says I’m going to run over a pedestrian today,” D’Arthenay said.
“But the choice she made, to be speeding as a professional driver, she fundamentally didn’t uphold what we count on her to do as a community. And the ramifications of her choices are irreparable. Not just to myself, but to Tyler’s family, the ripple effects, and I would hope I would give somehow her some sense of the consequences of her choices,” she said.
CTVNews.ca Top Stories
The day after an RCMP officer was killed and two others were injured while executing a search warrant in Coquitlam, B.C., charges of murder and attempted murder have been laid.
Two groups in the Canadian Sikh diaspora are calling for Canada's political parties to "present a united front" on India after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced a "potential link" between the shooting death of a local leader and the Indian government.
The family of a Black high school student in Texas who was suspended over his dreadlocks filed a federal civil rights lawsuit Saturday against the state's governor and attorney general, alleging they failed to enforce a new law outlawing discrimination based on hairstyles.
Moneris says systems back online after users across Canada report outages affecting debit, credit payments
The payment processing company Moneris says it has resolved an outage that appeared to affect debit and credit transactions across the country.
There was 'shared intelligence among Five Eyes partners' that informed Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's public allegation of a potential link between the government of India and the murder of a Canadian citizen, United States Ambassador to Canada David Cohen confirmed to CTV News.
A First Nations premier would head a province for the first time in Canadian history if the New Democrats win the Oct. 3 Manitoba election, and the significance is not lost on party leader Wab Kinew.
Canada's international student program faced with 'integrity challenges,' senators say in push for reform
A group of Canadian senators is proposing a series of reforms to the country's international student program that include ways of protecting newcomers from fraud and abuse, as well as greater regulations and penalties for recruiters and educational institutions.
The death of a Metro Vancouver RCMP officer who was shot dead while executing a search warrant is reverberating with law enforcement officials across the country.
Smoke has forced Yellowknife to cancel a celebration marking the return of residents to the city after a wildfires-prompted evacuation that lasted for weeks.
Thousands of public-sector workers carried turquoise flags Saturday afternoon through downtown Montreal. The workers, representing a collaboration of several unions, say they’re ready to launch general strike unless the Quebec government can give them a “respectable” offer.
Montreal firefighters pulled two people from a collapsed building in Montreal North Saturday.
Montreal firefighters battled a four-alarm blaze spanning two residential buildings in Dorval Saturday afternoon. First responders were called to the corner of Dawson Avenue and Garden Crescent around 1 p.m. The caller said they saw smoke billowing from a balcony on the third floor.
Tens of thousands of people were celebrating in and around campus for Western University Homecoming on Saturday.
Minor injuries have been reported and traffic was impacted after a two-vehicle collision knocked down a traffic light standard in east London on Saturday morning.
London police are asking the public for help in identifying an outstanding vehicle that was involved in a fatal east end collision that claimed the life of a pedestrian earlier this week.
The province's Special Investigations Unit (SIU) is investigating the death of a 43-year-old man after fleeing Guelph police officers Saturday morning.
Universities in Waterloo and Guelph are urging students to act responsibly during homecoming celebrations.
Investigators with the Waterloo Regional Police Services are asking for the public's help finding who is responsible for the fatal stabbing of a Conestoga College student.
One person has died as a result of a serious two-vehicle collision in the Greater Sudbury community of Hanmer late Friday evening.
Nipissing MPP Vic Fedeli came to Premier Doug Ford’s defence Friday over his about-face decision not to open up the Greenbelt land for developers.
Indian international students are on edge, following the Indian government’s retaliation to the prime minister’s allegations that India had a hand in murdering Sikh independence activist in Canada.
NEW THIS MORNING
NEW THIS MORNING City data suggests significant traffic increase on O'Connor Street when Queen Elizabeth Driveway closed
The city of Ottawa's transportation committee will meet this week to discuss this summer's closure of the Queen Elizabeth Driveway with data that suggests nearby O'Connor Street is absorbing most of the diverted traffic.
Ottawa police are asking for witnesses to a shooting in the south end to come forward.
Ford offers Unifor 'substantive' benefits in new collective agreement, voting to take place this weekend
Several days after reaching a tentative collective agreement, 5,600 Ford workers across Canada will cast their vote this weekend for what’s been called the 'largest negotiated general wage increase in Unifor and CAW history.
A 15-year-old youth has been arrested by police in Chatham-Kent after they attended a person’s home while in possession of a firearm Saturday morning.
The first weekend of autumn will be a beautiful one in the Rose City with warm temperatures and sunshine. But autumn rain will be making its first appearance later this week.
South Simcoe Police are asking anyone with information to come forward after an early morning robbery at a home in Bradford West Gwillimbury.
Parking machines have been the talk of the Town in Midland for quite some time, and the topic is being brought up yet again.
One person has been transported to hospital after an early morning fire at an apartment complex in Barrie.
Community groups in New Brunswick are coming together to help more than 100 people in Fredericton who fled a burning apartment building last Thursday.
The New Brunswick RCMP say they have requested the Serious Incident Response Team (SiRT) to review actions taken by police after a man sustained injuries during an arrest in St. Stephen N.B.
The northern campground at Rissers Beach Provincial Park reopened Friday, but the rest of the provincial park is closed for the season due to damage sustained by post-tropical storm Lee.
After scoring a touchdown to put an exclamation point on a 28-11 win for his Montreal Alouettes over the Calgary Stampeders, William Stanback breathed a sigh of relief.
Funeral services were held Saturday for a 21-year-old University of Calgary student who was struck and killed while crossing the street on Sept. 14.
Calgary veterans, both active and retired, walked alongside family members and friends for the sixth annual Canadian Walk for Veterans on Saturday at South Glenmore Park.
Anyone eager to vote in Manitoba's 43rd provincial election can now do so as advance polling stations open across the province Saturday morning.
A Winnipeg environmental group is urging people in the Seine River area to respect wildlife after the dismantling of a beaver dam earlier this week.
The Winnipeg Jets have unveiled their new alternate jersey for the 2023-24 season.
After losing his spouse of 25 years to cancer, Mario Agnello tried to get a refund for an upcoming holiday from Sunwing. To his dismay, he found only travel vouchers were available through the airline's cancellation insurance.
Dozens of firefighters gathered at a funeral home in Chilliwack for a sombre ceremony Saturday morning, before climbing aboard several fire trucks and leading a funeral procession for Blain Sonnenberg.
'It's so disheartening': Five names added to memorial for victims of impaired drivers at Saturday vigil
Alberta victims of impaired drivers were remembered Saturday in Spruce Grove.
Edmonton police are looking for a suspect in the reported sexual assault of an 11-year-old girl in southeast Edmonton this week.
A 16-year-old boy is dead after a crash on Highway 16 Saturday afternoon.