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Mana Whanonga Pirihimana Motuhake

Home / Outcomes / 2018-19 Summaries of Police Investigations

Allegation that Police deliberately used innocent party's vehicle to trap a fleeing driver

12 November 2019

The Authority oversaw a Police investigation into a complaint from a man who alleged that Police used his vehicle, while he and his family were inside it, to try to trap a fleeing driver on a bridge.

The incident happened in Northland District in January 2018. An officer was preparing to lay road spikes at one end of a small bridge to stop the fleeing driver when the complainant and his family approached in their vehicle, towing a trailer. The officer waved them over the bridge; however, before they could get across the fleeing driver came into sight on the road behind them and the officer threw the spikes out in front of the complainant's vehicle. They stopped short of the spikes, following which the fleeing driver rammed their trailer twice, reversed into a Police car, and rammed them again, shunting their vehicle over the spikes and off the bridge so that he could get away. The driver was stopped and arrested a short distance away.

The Police investigation found that the officer did not deliberately put the complainant and his family in the path of the fleeing driver. He made an error in judgement, firstly in waving them onto the bridge without communicating to other officers who may have been able to provide information about the fleeing driver's whereabouts, and secondly in throwing the spikes out in front of them. This was addressed with him. Police apologised to the complainant and his wife and negotiated a confidential settlement.

The Authority's review of the Police investigation agreed with the finding and the outcome.

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