The Independent Police Conduct Authority has found that an officer who pursued a fleeing vehicle, which subsequently crashed, was justified in commencing the pursuit and the pursuit was generally conducted in accordance with policy. The front-seat passenger of the pursued car died as a result of the crash.
At about 8.30pm on Saturday 21 May 2016 the officer observed a Lexus pull into the VTNZ/Holden dealership car park on Titahi Bay Road. The officer thought the driver’s actions were suspicious and requested information from the Police Central Communications Centre (CentComms) about the Lexus.
As CentComms advised there were a number of issues with the Lexus, the officer followed it along Titahi Bay Road until the roundabout at the intersection with Hagley Road, at which point he activated his lights and siren due to the driver’s manner of driving and speed. Before the roundabout at the intersection of Titahi Bay and Walton Leigh Roads, the officer realised that the driver was actively attempting to avoid him and he commenced a pursuit.
The officer stopped at the Mungavin roundabout and turned his siren off to try and listen for the Lexus as he was unsure which way it had gone. The driver had crashed into the barrier around the Mungavin roundabout before driving back toward the Walton-Leigh roundabout on the wrong side of the road. The Lexus then went around the Walton-Leigh roundabout the wrong way, before heading down Kenepuru Drive.
The driver of the Lexus lost control on Kenepuru Drive, and drove through a fence and into a tree.
The Authority found that the Police’s communication during the pursuit was generally conducted in accordance with policy and was well managed by the dispatcher. Additionally, the officer’s speed and manner of driving were appropriate.
Authority Chair, Judge Sir David Carruthers, said, “Given the short duration of the pursuit, the officer carried out an appropriate risk assessment and turned his mind to abandoning the pursuit on more than one occasion.”
The only breach of policy identified by the Authority was that the officer did not have his siren activated for the entire duration of the pursuit. He deactivated his siren at the Mungavin roundabout and forgot to reactivate it.