The incident began at 5.50am when an off-duty officer identified a stolen vehicle driving on the Mount Wellington Highway and notified the Police Northern Communications Centre (NorthComms). He followed the vehicle as it exited the motorway, drove through a red light, and then stopped at a residential address on Bentley Road.
The off-duty officer parked his car near the address to keep observations on the occupants of the stolen car, updating NorthComms until Police could arrive to assist. Meanwhile, the driver of the vehicle, Mr Tai, approached and briefly spoke to the off-duty officer, who remained in his car. Mr Tai then returned to the stolen vehicle and drove away with two passengers.
A marked Police patrol car arrived as Mr Tai pulled out onto Bairds Road. Police initiated a pursuit, matching Mr Tai’s speed of 90-100kph (in a 50kph zone). Mr Tai proceeded to travel through a red light at an intersection at speed, but Police slowed down before following him through the intersection and in doing so lost sight of the vehicle.
Subsequently, Police decided to abandon the pursuit. As they rounded a corner on Bairds Road they saw that Mr Tai had crashed the vehicle into a tree.
“The Authority finds that it was appropriate for the off-duty officer to intervene in this incident and to follow Mr Tai until on-duty Police could assist. The Authority is also satisfied that the Police officers who engaged in the pursuit with Mr Tai complied with the law and Police policy” said Authority Chair, Judge Colin Doherty.
The Authority also found that Police provided appropriate emergency medical assistance until Fire and Ambulance services arrived at the scene of the crash.
In July 2017, the Independent Police Conduct Authority and New Zealand Police commenced a joint review of Police pursuits. The purpose of the review is to better understand the pursuit environment, and to identify any current issues with Police management of these events. The review will also identify areas of good practice. It is intended that a report will be made publicly available; anticipated to be released in late 2018.This incident will form part of the data assessed in the review.