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2 Sault police officers once again face charges in Matt Howard death

In the early morning hours of Sunday, February 28, 2010, 19-year-old Matthew Howard was struck and killed by a vehicle driven by 32-year-old Joseph Biocchi on Queen Street East.

In the early morning hours of Sunday, February 28, 2010, 19-year-old Matthew Howard was struck and killed by a vehicle driven by 32-year-old Joseph Biocchi on Queen Street East.

Biocchi was subsequently charged with one count of careless driving and one count of failing to drive in a marked lane under the Highway Traffic Act.

Those charges were later dismissed in November 2010 for lack of evidence.

An investigation was launched against the four attending officers after Howard's mother, Patricia Nisbett, claimed the investigation had been mishandled by Sault Ste. Marie Police by not demanding a breath sample from Mr. Biocchi even though he reportedly admitted to the officers that he had consumed alcohol.

Charged under the Police Service Act with neglect of duty and disreputable conduct in that incident were Inspector Art Pluss and Sergeant Joseph Trudeau.
 
Constable Darren Sirie and Sergeant William Freeman were also charged with neglect of duty.

In January of this year, charges of misconduct against the four Sault Ste. Marie Police Service officers in relation to the tragic death were dropped by Police Services Act Hearing Officer Terry Kelly.

Patricia Nisbett appealed the decision to drop all charges against the officers, and an Ontario Civilian Police Commission (OCPC) decision dated October 12, 2012 revokes the decision by Hearing Officer Terry Kelly to dismiss charges against Constable Darren Sirie and Sergeant William Freeman.

As stated in the decision: "We order that the Hearing Officer should continue the hearing with respect to Consts. Sirie and Freeman. He should receive such additional evidence as the parties determine relevant and he should consider such issues as may be relevant to the charges. Accordingly, we revoke the decision of the Hearing Officer to dismiss the charges against Consts. Freeman and Sirie and remit the matter to the Hearing Officer for a continuation of the hearing."

The decision to dismiss charges against Inspector Art Pluss and Sergeant Joseph Trudeau stands.

"We find that there is no evidence on the record to support the charges against Insp. Pluss and Sgt. Trudeau. In fact the evidence fully exonerates them from the charges," the decision reads.

Full text of the OCPC decision can be found here

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Donna Hopper

About the Author: Donna Hopper

Donna Hopper has been a photojournalist with SooToday since 2007, and her passion for music motivates her to focus on area arts, entertainment and community events.
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