10 March 2016
In a report released today, the Independent Police Conduct Authority has found that, while Police generally complied with policy when pursuing a driver who subsequently crashed, the second and third stages of the pursuit should not have occurred and posed an undue risk to officers and members of the public.
The 25-year-old driver, Mr Meyer, fled from Police when signalled to stop in Whanganui on 7 May 2015. He was an unlicensed driver who had been forbidden to drive. Police abandoned their brief pursuit of him after he hit a cyclist. However, the pursuit was recommenced and abandoned on two further occasions. The pursuit ended when Mr Meyer’s car collided with a stationary truck, shortly after Police deployed road spikes for a second time. Mr Meyer died at the scene.
Chair of the Authority, Judge Sir David Carruthers said: “Mr Meyer demonstrated risky driving behaviour to avoid being caught by Police. He committed multiple offences and his actions put officers and others at significant risk throughout. However the Authority’s focus is on whether Police actions were appropriate.”
The Authority found that Police mostly complied with relevant law and Police policy during each of the three stages of the pursuit and the deployment of road spikes. However, it noted that there was no clear permission from the pursuit controller to recommence the pursuit, and that one officer breached policy when he failed to pull over and stop after abandoning the third stage of the pursuit.
While acknowledging that Police largely complied with their ‘fleeing driver’ policy, the Authority found that the second and third pursuits should not have been initiated.
“There was no reasonable basis for Police to conclude that recommencement of the pursuit would either reduce the risk or was likely to influence Mr Meyer to stop. Mr Meyer’s behaviour pointed to the fact that further Police pursuits would be likely to maintain, if not increase, the risk that he posed” said Sir David.
The Authority has recommended that Police amend the ‘fleeing driver’ policy to clearly prohibit recommencing a pursuit unless Police have good reason to believe that:
a) the risk posed by the fleeing person’s driving behaviour will be significantly reduced during the new pursuit; or
b) a further pursuit is likely to succeed in stopping the fleeing vehicle.