On 2 September 2020, Police pursued a car where the driver shot at pursuing officers. The pursuit was abandoned but recommenced after the fleeing driver’s car had been spiked. We found that the recommencement of the pursuit was justified, and that a subsequent decision not to abandon the pursuit, after the driver again fired on Police, was reasonable in the circumstances.
Police initially pursued a speeding car on Kiripaka Road in Whangārei. During the pursuit, the driver shot a rifle, once out of the car’s window, and the officers abandoned the pursuit. The fleeing car was followed by two, armed, dog handlers and Police successfully spiked it. The pursuit controller authorised the pursuit to recommence.
As the pursuit continued, the driver of the fleeing car, twice leaned out of his car’s driver window and fired a shot each time at the pursuing patrol car, one bullet damaging the patrol car’s left headlight. On consecutive occasions, the fleeing driver also aimed the rifle at the patrol car pursuing him, but the rifle did not fire. It is suspected to have malfunctioned.
The fleeing car eventually came to a stop in Tarewa Road where Police arrested the driver and a passenger. The driver subsequently claimed that during his arrest an unknown officer elbowed him in the left side of his face. That allegation was unsubstantiated.
The driver pleaded guilty on charges related to his driving and firing at Police, he was sentenced to seven years imprisonment.
The Authority delayed the release of its public report, until after the conclusion of related court proceedings.
Authority Chair, Judge Colin Doherty commented that, “Overall, the pursuit was managed in a professional manner; the pursuit controller maintained good control and co-ordination of the situation on the ground. He communicated his plans clearly to all units and provided supporting commentary to the pursuing officer, after he was shot at. This was a highly stressful situation for all officers involved and we acknowledge that the incident, overall, was well managed and ultimately resolved without serious injury or the loss of life.”