6 May 2011
Investigations of two separate Police pursuits which occurred in 2010 have found officers were justified in commencing the pursuits, one of them fatal, and one resulting in serious injuries.
However other aspects of the pursuits were not conducted in accordance with Police policies.
The Independent Police Conduct Authority has released reports of the investigations of the pursuits on 20 February 2010 in Picton, and 24 August 2010 in Parnell in Auckland.
Twenty three year old Chase Glen Neary (also known as Chase Buckton) died during the pursuit in Picton in February when he failed to take a bend on his motorcycle, crashed through a railing and fell into a culvert. His mother, who was the pillion passenger, suffered serious injuries. The motorcycle had faulty front brakes and Mr Neary was not familiar with it, having obtained it only two days earlier.
The Authority has found the Police officer commenced the pursuit after he noticed the motorcycle speeding and suspected the driver was intoxicated. However the officer was unaware his ‘Gold’ driver classification had expired and that as a result he was not authorised to conduct pursuits. The Authority has found the Police policy at the time was unclear, and the officer reasonably believed he was able to conduct pursuits. The policy has since been clarified. The officer’s speed during the pursuit, of around 120 kph in a 50 kph zone, whilst lawful, was nevertheless undesirable.
In the August pursuit, the 15 year old driver of a stolen Nissan crashed into a tree in Fraser Park in Parnell, injuring himself and two 14 year old passengers. The Police had earlier pursued the car in Newmarket, although at the time of the crash the Police car’s warning lights and sirens were no longer activated and it is not known whether the driver of the Nissan was aware of the Police presence.
The Authority has found the Police officers were justified in commencing the pursuit after they noticed the driver of the Nissan failed to stop for a red light and nearly collided with a truck. However the officers, the dispatcher and the pursuit controller at the Northern Communications Centre did not comply with Police policy for abandoning a pursuit, when the Nissan reached speeds of 100 kph in a 50kph zone and ran another red light. The Authority has recommended that Police consider whether the officers and staff concerned should be the subject of disciplinary action or training as a result.