The Independent Police Conduct Authority has found that Police were justified in commencing a pursuit of a stolen Subaru in Taita, Wellington, on 12 November 2016. Police generally conducted the pursuit in accordance with policy, apart from not following the full abandonment procedure after losing sight of the Subaru for some time.
A Police officer began pursuing the Subaru in Taita at about 4.03am, after observing it driving at speed with its headlights off, hazard lights flashing and alarm sounding. The officer soon lost sight of the Subaru, deactivated his Police car’s warning lights and siren, and slowed down to the posted speed limit of 50kph.
Police policy also required the officer to pull over and stop as soon as it was safe to do so, and report his location to the pursuit controller at the Police Communications Centre. However the officer continued driving and searched side streets for the Subaru.
“The pursuing officer should have completed all the steps required by Police policy when a pursuit is abandoned. The pursuit controller should have sought confirmation from the pursuing officer as to whether or not he was abandoning the pursuit, or instructed him to complete all the abandonment procedures” said Authority Chair, Judge Colin Doherty.
A short time later the officer saw the Subaru again and advised the pursuit controller that he was ‘re-engaging’ the pursuit. The pursuit proceeded south on State Highway 2, reaching speeds of 170kph in a 100kph zone.
At about 4.08am the Subaru crashed in Petone, and the driver and front-seat passenger fled on foot. They were both apprehended by the pursuing officer and a Police dog, and received dog bites. Two back-seat passengers were cut out of the crashed vehicle by emergency services and taken to hospital to receive treatment for their injuries.
The Authority determined that the use of a Police dog to apprehend the driver and front-seat passenger was justified, and that Police provided an appropriate level of care to the back-seat passengers of the crashed vehicle.