11 July 2011
An investigation of a fatal collision involving a Police officer in Northland in July 2009 has concluded the officer’s actions were not unlawful.
However the Independent Police Conduct Authority has concluded the officer’s driving was neither reasonable nor prudent before his vehicle struck two 16 year old youths, killing Rawiri Wilson and seriously injuring his cousin.
The Authority has found the officer’s use of his mobile phone while driving and his failure to have his headlights on high beam were unreasonable and undesirable pursuant to the Independent Police Conduct Authority Act 1988.
The Authority did not establish if the officer was using his phone at the time of the collision or in the seconds before it, but it is of the view that he would have been aware of an incoming text message 20 to 30 seconds before the impact. At the time, it was not unlawful to use a mobile phone while driving.
The investigation has also established that Rawiri Wilson and his cousin were under the influence of alcohol and cannabis at the time, and were not mindful of risk or exercising caution as they walked on an unlit section of SH 1 at night.
During its investigation, the Authority recommended that Police seek an outside legal opinion as to whether the officer could face criminal charges for his driving. Acting on the advice of the Auckland Crown Solicitor, the Police decided not to prosecute.
The Authority makes no recommendations.