16 February 2010 - Police actions in pursuing a speeding driver through a busy part of central Christchurch in December 2008 breached policy and amounted to misconduct, the Independent Police Conduct Authority has found.
The pursuit ended when the fleeing driver, Thomas James Hancy, collided with another car, causing life-threatening injuries to the 24-year-old driver Laura Kate Henry, and injuring two passengers, one of whom was a five-year-old girl.
The pursuit, by two officers in an unmarked car, had begun on Riccarton Road and ended at the intersection of Tuam Street and Durham Street South.
The Authority found that the officers were not justified in starting the pursuit as they had failed to consider the risks associated with pursuing a speeding vehicle past Christchurch Hospital towards the central city on a Friday evening when pedestrian and vehicle traffic were likely to be heavy.
The Authority also found that, having started the pursuit, the officers should have abandoned it before they reached Tuam Street. Whilst the officers made a decision to abandon on Tuam Street, they did not follow through and instead continued the pursuit until Mr Hancy crashed into Ms Henry’s car.
“In the Authority’s view, the actions of the officers amounted to misconduct,” said Authority Chair Justice Lowell Goddard.
“However, the primary reason for the crash was Thomas Hancy’s reckless driving, at speed, through a red traffic signal.”
Justice Goddard noted that an internal Police investigation had also found that the officers’ actions had amounted to misconduct, and that the Police had taken disciplinary action under the Police Code of Conduct.