22 June 2012 - The investigation of a fatal pursuit in Auckland in December 2010 has found the speed reached for a short time by a Police officer in an unmarked car was unjustified.
The Independent Police Conduct Authority has released its report into the pursuit of 33 year old Api Kao Aue in Mangere on 4 December 2010. Mr Kao Aue lost control of a Subaru Impreza while fleeing Police and collided with a steel signpost near the corner of Kirkbride and Ascot Rds. He died at the scene and two passengers were seriously injured.
One of Mr Kao Aue’s passengers said they had been drinking heavily before getting into the car. He said Mr Kao Aue was driving fast, overtaking cars and driving on the wrong side of the road. He made numerous requests to Mr Kao Aue to slow down but Mr Kao Aue responded by turning up the music in the car. The passenger was unaware Police were following the Subaru and said no one in the car mentioned the presence of Police.
The Authority found the two officers involved were justified in law and policy in commencing the pursuit, after they observed Mr Kao Aue driving at speed in a 50 kph zone in Coronation Rd. The Authority also found the pursuit was subsequently conducted in accordance with policy, apart from a relatively short time in Kirkbride Rd when the officers reached 150 kph in a 60 kph zone.
The Police fleeing driver policy requires officers to drive in a manner that prioritises the safety of the public and staff. Whilst it is clear that Officer A was cognisant of upcoming risk factors and was considering abandonment, the Authority nevertheless finds that the speed reached by Police was unjustified for the following reasons:
• the speed was two and a half times the legally prescribed limit for that stretch of road;
• the pursuit route was through a semi-residential area and was heading towards a major intersection and a busy area of Mangere;
• there was a medium level of traffic on the roads as well as some pedestrians; and
• while visibility on the road was good, the pursuit took place at night, placing additional pressure on a driver’s ability to react to potential hazards.
The Authority finds that the risk to the driver, Police and the public when driving at such a speed outweighed the need to apprehend the offender. Pursuant to section 27(2) of the Independent Police Conduct Authority Act the Authority recommends that Officer A is reminded of the risks of pursuing at such a high speed.