Manitoulin woman filing complaint against Sudbury police after she was charged during distracted driving blitz
SUDBURY -- A Manitoulin Island woman says she is filing a complaint against the Greater Sudbury Police Service after being ticketed for distracted driving last week at the corner of Lasalle Boulevard and Barrydowne Road.
Lisa Colquhoun, 59, said she feared for her life after being approached by a plainclothes police officer, who, she said, cut across two lanes of traffic to pound on her driver's side window.
"He looked very angry, which scared me right off the bat because I was wondering what is going on," said Colquhoun. "He then banged on my window, told me to roll my window down. The gentleman wasn't wearing a mask and the way that he was banging and looking at me scared me very much."
After recent safety concerns and stabbings in the downtown area, she told CTV she immediately started to panic.
Admits she was using cellphone
Colquhoun, who said she has an underlying health concern, freely admits she was using her cellphone. She said she uses it to navigate because of issues with dyslexia. She pulled over her car to a nearby gas station. It was there where she said she had a full blown panic attack and EMS had to be called.
But in a statement, Greater Sudbury Police said they issued 70 distracted driver tickets in just three days.
"We know that distracted driving has surpassed impaired driving as the No. 1 killer on our roadways," the statement said.
"Plainclothes officers have police identification and present their badge and augment that with verbal confirmation on every stop. During traffic stops, the operational necessities allow for short-term interactions without a mask in order to detect alcohol/drugs and to communicate clearly with the driver of the vehicle."
Colquhoun said she reported the incident to Public Health Sudbury & Districts, who referred her to the office of Greater Sudbury Police Chief Paul Pedersen.
She's been speaking with an inspector at police headquarters and plans to file an official complaint.
Colquhoun claims the plainclothes officer didn't provide anything to show her that he was police and she had to ask him for it.
'A very scary thing'
"That's a very scary thing when you're a 59-year-old woman in a vehicle and somebody comes banging on your door," she said.
CTV News reached out to the Greater Sudbury Police Service, which declined our request for an interview on the incident or the distracted driving blitz operation.
But in their statement, police said the blitz was part of National Teen Driver Safety Week, and the focus was distracted driving.
"The area of Barrydowne Road and Lasalle Boulevard was the main area for enforcement, based on Accident Support Services data collected from their collision reporting, indicating Barrydowne Road as being one of the city’s high-collision areas," the statement said. "Road safety continues to be a top priority for the Greater Sudbury Police Service while giving consideration for public health during the COVID-19 pandemic."
CTV News also spoke with criminal defence lawyer Ari Goldkind to get his legal opinion. He says he has "zero sympathy" for the driver in this case, and that if you're told to pull your vehicle over in a traffic stop by an officer, you'd be wise to listen.
"If anyone watching thinks that somebody comes up to your car, knocks, immediately identifies themselves as a police officer but because they don't look like an RCMP Mountie, or they're not in uniform, that you can put the pedal to the metal and drive off, you're absolutely mistaken," he said.