Police officers sentenced over role in chase that left Brantford teen dead
Ryan Flanagan, CTV Kitchener
Published Friday, March 17, 2017 3:58PM EDT
Last Updated Friday, March 17, 2017 7:19PM EDT
Paying fines will be the only penalty for two police officers who pleaded guilty to mischief endangering life.
Const. Craig McMurtrie and Const. Rodney Grubb of Brant County OPP had been charged with dangerous driving causing death and criminal negligence causing death in connection with the police chase that ended in the crash that killed 18-year-old Ashley Lerno.
On Oct. 10, 2014, McMurtrie and Grubb began to pursue a pickup truck that had done a U-turn when it came upon a RIDE checkpoint near Burford.
The seven-minute chase took both vehicles into Brantford, where the truck ran a red light and collided with a third vehicle – this one being driven by Lerno, who was taken to hospital with serious injuries and died five days later.
The driver of the truck, Richard Gamble, was later sentenced to prison time for his role in the crash.
Charges were also laid against the two officers at the recommendation of Ontario’s Special Investigations Unit – something which had never happened before with Brant County OPP.
Through the court process, McMurtrie and Grubb have said that in hindsight, the chase should have been called off for public safety reasons once it left rural Brant County and moved into a more urban environment in Brantford.
On Friday, the pair appeared in a Hamilton courtroom, where they were sentenced to an absolute discharge – meaning no conviction has been registered.
The Crown had argued that convictions be entered, in an attempt to deter other police officers from similar behaviours.
The absolute discharge Justice George S. Gage settled on had been the penalty sought by the officers.
In his decision, Gage wrote that the officers were in the midst of a “rapidly evolving and highly stressful” situation and were attempting to uphold the law.
“They did not have the luxury of calm and considered reflection and review that hindsight affords,” he wrote.
Following the sentencing, Lerno’s mother told CTV News that she was pleased with the outcome.
“The (people who) should be in jail are in jail,” Joanne Lerno said.
“I’m just really, really glad that (the officers) got off.”
McMurtrie and Grubb have been on active duty since the crash.
With reporting by Abigail Bimman