The Independent Police Conduct Authority has found that officers were justified in pursuing offenders who had stolen cars and burgled a liquor store in Christchurch on 11 November 2019. The use of a Police dog to assist in the arrest of one of the men was reasonable and proportionate.
The offenders used two cars in the burglary, and both drivers fled. A subsequent pursuit was abandoned due to the risk it posed to members of the public. An hour later, the offenders were located behind a different liquor store. They left when they saw a patrol car arrive.
Police followed the two cars at road speed for eight minutes before using road spikes to puncture their tyres. The Authority considered the use of the spikes to be a safe and reasonable tactic to attempt to stop the cars.
The cars split up, so were pursued separately. The two occupants of one car were apprehended a short time later when they tried to escape on foot.
The driver of the other car, which had three passengers, drove on the wrong side of the road and struggled to control the car as its tyres disintegrated. He rammed a patrol car when it moved in front of him. The decision to continue the pursuit was reasonable, given the slow speed and lack of traffic given the time of the morning. Assisting officers were able to help minimise the risks.
After pursuing the car for three and a half minutes, a civilian's car approached in the oncoming lane. With a collision potentially imminent, Police nudged the fleeing car off the road, bringing it to a stop. Given the circumstances, the Authority found this to be justified.
A Police dog handler arrived at the scene. He believed the driver had assaulted one officer and saw him struggling with another one. Fearing this officer may be seriously injured, the dog handler used his dog to latch onto the man's leg while they brought him under control. The man was bitten twice on the leg during the arrest. Officers provided him with appropriate medical care.
The Authority found Police officers did not kick the man as he was lying on the ground, as he claimed.
"I am satisfied the officers involved in the pursuit and the arrest conducted sound, ongoing assessments of the risks and made appropriate tactical decisions, given the circumstances," said Authority Chair, Judge Colin Doherty.
Pursuit and dog bite in Christchurch justified (PDF 520 KB)