The Independent Police Conduct Authority has found that an officer's actions during a pursuit in Auckland on 23 October 2017 constituted dangerous driving. The officer drove at speeds reaching 200kph in an 80kph area during the pursuit. Ultimately the fleeing vehicle left the road at high speed and struck a tree.
There were five people in the vehicle. Two of the passengers died in hospital a few hours after the crash, while the driver and the other two passengers were seriously injured.
The incident began at 1.08am, when two officers were conducting speed checks on the North Western Motorway near Great North Road. They observed a Volkswagen Golf travelling at 133kph in an 80kph speed limit. The officers began following the vehicle in an attempt to catch up to it, before initiating a pursuit by activating their patrol car's lights and sirens.
The fleeing driver continued driving on the motorway at speed before taking the Newton Road on-ramp. Police briefly caught up to the driver on the overbridge before he exited the Newton off-ramp and sped away. The fleeing driver then exited the motorway at the St Lukes Road off-ramp and shortly after lost control of the vehicle, striking a tree.
The Authority found that it was appropriate for the officers to initiate a pursuit. However, once it became evident that the fleeing driver was not going to stop for Police, and was in fact accelerating away from them at very high speed, the officers should have abandoned the pursuit.
Authority Chair, Judge Colin Doherty, said "The speeds at which the officer drove on this occasion were clearly unjustified and constituted dangerous driving. Indeed, it is the Authority's view that rarely, if ever, would driving on a public road at a speed of two and a half times the posted speed limit not constitute dangerous driving."
The Authority also found that Police should have initiated a criminal investigation into the officer's driving.