Essex County OPP Officer Found Guilty In 2014 Crash

An Essex County OPP officer has been found guilty of dangerous driving causing bodily harm in a 2014 crash in St. Joachim.

Constable Jamie Porto was rushing to the scene of what he believed was a fiery crash with a woman's face on fire in Lakeshore when he hit another car on County Rd 42.

The driver of the car, Ryan Coombes, suffered some broken ribs and a concussion.

Coombes had not pulled over and testified he never saw the OPP cruiser with its lights and sirens activated.

The court heard Porto was driving 178 km/hour seconds before impact.

Justice Bruce Thomas found Porto should have slowed down in the area which consisted of a community safety zone, an elementary school and a construction zone.

Justice Thomas said regardless of the crash, Porto would have been found guilty of dangerous driving for speeding.

"The failure of Coombes (to pull over) does not excuse the actions of the officer," ruled Justice Thomas.

Porto's lawyer Dan Scott says Porto is shocked by the conviction.

"He is devastated," said Scott outside of the courthouse.  "In today's age when it is so easy to bash the police, it seems when they are trying to do the right thing and in their mind trying to save somebody's life, that now they are second guessed on everything they do and God help us."

Scott believes there will be a huge impact on policing because of this decision.

"I think you are going to have difficulty finding any police service, any officer rushing to any emergency situation now. It has a chilling effect whether the decision is right or wrong, I think people who could have been saved, won't be."

A date for sentencing will be set January 6th.   

The conviction does not mean Porto is dismissed from the OPP and he has been working the entire time.