15 March 2012
An investigation has found that Police complied with the law and with Police policy during the pursuit of a fifteen year old driver who died instantly when he crashed a stolen car on a central Auckland motorway in January 2011.
The Independent Police Conduct Authority has released the report of its investigation of the pursuit of Timoti Mohi along Great North Rd, Karangahape Rd and the southern motorway just before 1.00am on 5 January 2011. Timoti was driving a stolen Nissan Silvia and crashed at high speed into a power pole on Mount Hobson Rd at the top of the Market Rd off-ramp. He died at the scene and his passenger suffered serious injuries. A second vehicle being pursued, a grey or silver Subaru, did not stop. The radio transmission of the pursuit lasted one minute 17 seconds and the pursuit was abandoned approximately one kilometre before the crash.
The pursuit began after Officer A, a dog handler in a marked station wagon in Symonds St, responded to reports that occupants of a Nissan Silvia and a Subaru were interfering with parked cars in Grey Lynn. As he drove towards the area he saw a Subaru and Nissan Silvia drive through a red light at the Great North Rd/Ponsonby Rd intersection. He estimated they were travelling at 70-80 kph in a 50 kph speed zone. He activated his lights and siren but they failed to stop. He was then justified in commencing the pursuit. The vehicles drove through red lights at three major intersections further along Karangahape Rd, although no other road users were required to take evasive action.
After the pursuit entered the motorway at Symonds St, the fleeing drivers accelerated rapidly to an estimated 180 kph and Officer A reached speeds of 150 kph. The speed zone at that point was 100 kph, although a temporary speed zone of 70 kph was in place a little further along the motorway because of construction work.
Officer A and the pursuit controller at the Northern Communications Centre both independently decided the risk factors had by then become too high to continue the pursuit. The NorthComms controller instructed the pursuit should be abandoned and, in accordance with Police policy, Officer A acknowledged the instruction, reduced his speed and switched off his lights and siren. Officer A was on the Newmarket flyover when he abandoned the pursuit, approximately one kilometre before the crash scene.
Officer A was advised by NorthComms that operators monitoring cameras at the Traffic Management Centre reported the Nissan had crashed at the top of the Market Rd off-ramp. When he arrived the vehicle was on fire and he used a fire extinguisher from his car to put it out. Timoti was dead and his passenger was in a critical condition. The Subaru had not stopped. Timoti’s blood samples tested positive for cannabis but showed no trace of alcohol. He was an unlicensed driver.
The Authority has concluded the pursuit was justified and was conducted in accordance with law and policy. Timoti Mohi was prepared to take great risks to avoid being caught by Police. Pursuant to the IPCA Act, the Authority has formed the opinion that no Police actions were contrary to law, unreasonable, unfair, unjustified or undesirable. The Authority has re-stated previous recommendations that Police should develop policies for breath testing officers involved in critical incidents, however, there is no reason to believe that Officer A had consumed any alcohol.