Thursday, April 25, 2024

Force unjustified in Auckland pursuit

The Independent Police Conduct Authority (IPCA) has found that the force used by Police to remove a youth from a car following a pursuit was unjustified.

In the early hours of 11 December 2018, three stolen cars were involved in a ram raid burglary in Te Atatū, Auckland. Two of the cars left the scene. One was pursued and the occupants apprehended soon after. The other, a station wagon, was observed by the Police helicopter and spiked before a pursuit ensued involving a number of Police vehicles.

“The car was spiked twice, and eventually came to a stop on the Mount Wellington off-ramp where it was blocked in by Police vehicles. The driver, a youth, got out and was arrested,” the IPCA report stated.

“An officer smashed the front and rear passenger windows. He pulled the passenger, who was also a youth, out through the back passenger window, with the assistance of another officer. The passenger was restrained on the ground, arrested, and remanded into custody at a youth justice residence.”

The Authority found that pulling the youth from the car was unnecessary and unjustified, saying the officers who did so also failed to complete a Tactical Options Report about their use of force as required by Police policy.

“Pulling the youth out of the broken window was not necessary. Although he did climb into the back seat, he did not appear to be trying to get out of the car, and there was no urgency in removing him. The officers could have gone to the driver’s side and removed him through a door or waited for him to get out on his own, which would have presented significantly less risk of injury,” said Authority Chair, Judge Colin Doherty.

The Authority also made a number of findings in relation to the pursuit. There was a lack of clarity as to who was in command, the use of nudge bars to push the station wagon during the pursuit was outside of policy, and the speed reached by one of the officers during the incident was not justified.

NZ Police has accepted the IPCA’s finding that officers’ use of force in extracting the remaining occupant through a window was unjustified. It also found the use of nudge bars was outside of policy.

Superintendent Naila Hassan, Waitematā District Commander, said the driver’s actions in continuing to flee Police after the burglary posed a serious risk to the public.

“Staff responding to this incident had good intentions about stopping a vehicle that was continuing to engage in high risk behaviour,” says Superintendent Hassan.

“However, we accept the IPCA’s findings in relation to the use of force at the conclusion of the pursuit.

“Police is an organisation that is always committed to learning. In this instance there were several lessons learned for the staff involved in this matter.”

The full report is available at this link: Force following pursuit in Auckland unjustified.

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