Kelowna Mounties not at fault for crash that landed repeat offender back behind bars - InfoNews

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Kelowna Mounties not at fault for crash that landed repeat offender back behind bars

Jon Michael Aronson
Image Credit: SUBMITTED
May 06, 2020 - 10:54 AM

B.C.’s police watchdog has found that Kelowna Mounties were not at fault for the crash that put repeat offender John Michael Aronson back in a wheelchair and behind bars.

Aronson had given a seemingly heartfelt promise to the court Sept. 23, 2019 for a year earlier leading Mounties on a chase that ended with him crashing. 

“Almost dying was an eye-opener for me,” Aronson said that day, as he was sentenced to time-served on charges including flight from police and dangerous driving.

“I want to be there for my children. I’ve got a different focus on my life. I’m sorry (for) what I did. You won’t see me back here again.”

According to the Independent Investigations Office report, however, he was caught back on a familiar path very quickly.

“On the afternoon of Sept. 23, 2019, (Aronson) was seen by plainclothes officers driving a motor vehicle while prohibited from driving,” Ronald J MacDonald, chief civilian director of the IIO, said in a report released today, May 5, 2020.

A general duty Mountie in a marked police vehicle was told to execute a traffic stop, but also that Aronson may take off and to not pursue him.

In a report that relies on several eyewitnesses, video and vehicle data downloads, MacDonald said that the officer turned on his emergency lights just before the Westside Road exit from Highway 97, in an attempt to pull him over but that didn’t go as planned.

A civilian witness told investigators that he saw Aronson’s vehicle cut quickly across traffic lanes and take the exit ramp at high speed, almost colliding with a concrete barrier.

The police vehicle followed up the ramp, and as the civilian witness continued past Westside Road he saw Aronson’s vehicle speed down the onramp from the Westside and merge back into traffic on the highway.

At that point, the police cruiser stopped and another RCMP officer witnessed them turn off their emergency lights.

The rest of the chase, MacDonald said, was recorded on the dash cam of another civilian witness, which saw Aronson’s vehicle travelling along the shoulder lane and clip another southbound vehicle.

“The vehicle then immediately swerved left across the southbound lanes and the median, colliding with an oncoming northbound vehicle,” MacDonald said.

“That civilian said she did not see any police vehicle or emergency lights at the time and did not hear a siren.”

When he woke up in a hospital room later, Aronson told police that he was not aware he’d been followed by a police vehicle or that he’d been involved in a chase, said MacDonald.

“He said he believed his vehicle had been tapped by a flatbed truck that had come racing up behind him,” MacDonald wrote.

“He believed he lost control of his vehicle and, after that, only remembered waking up in the hospital. He suffered a fractured skull, broken arm, shoulder, femur, pelvis, knee and ankle.”

MacDonald said that the evidence doesn’t support the conclusion that the RCMP was somehow at fault for this series of events or that the chase was unjustified.

“The evidence demonstrates that the police vehicle's emergency lights were turned on only over a short distance and that Officer 1 pulled over and stopped with his lights turned off as soon as it was clear that (Aronson) was not going to comply,” he wrote.

“This behaviour is fully consistent with RCMP policy and the B.C. emergency driving regulations that suffuse a pursuit should not be continued in these circumstances.”

The crash, he wrote, was caused by (Aronson’s) behaviour in speeding and losing control of his vehicle, not by any inappropriate act of a police officer and therefore the matter will not be referred to crown counsel for consideration of charges.

While the local Mounties have been cleared in the crash, Aronson has yet to be tried or convicted of the charges related to the events of Sept. 23, 2019.

As of February, Aronson, who was in custody and in a wheelchair, faced charges of flight from police, dangerous operation of a conveyance, two charges of driving while disqualified under the Criminal Code of Canada and breaching probation.

Aronson was just released from 251 days in jail and credited with time and a half for that 2018 incident, amounting to 12.5 months served. He walked away from jail being on probation for two years, prohibited from driving for five years and will face a lifetime ban on weapons. A DNA sample was also ordered.

Before the 2018 incident where he ran from police, Aronson already more than 30 prior convictions for crimes including driving while suspended as well as multiple assaults and resisting arrest charges.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Kathy Michaels or call 250-718-0428 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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