4 August 2016
The Independent Police Conduct Authority has found that Police were justified in their initial pursuit of a BMW. However, due to the high risks involved, the Armed Offenders Squad (AOS) officer in pursuit should have abandoned the pursuit at an earlier stage, and should not have tried to forcefully stop the BMW by himself.
Just before 10am on 24 November 2014, Police commenced an urgent operation to apprehend a suspected drug courier, who was to be collected by Mr X and another person at Christchurch Airport. The officer in charge of the operation asked the AOS to stop Mr X’s BMW once the drug courier had been picked up.
The AOS missed stopping the BMW at Christchurch Airport, but managed to block the BMW in at the Wairakei Road roundabout, about one kilometre away. However, Mr X drove forward and hit an AOS officer, before accelerating away down Russley Road. Only a Police dog van, occupied by two AOS officers, was able to pursue it.
When the BMW turned left into Yaldhurst Road, the pursuing AOS officer attempted to stop the BMW by pushing it off the side of the road.
The BMW was damaged, but was able to complete a u-turn and drive back along Yaldhurst Road, towards the west. The dog van was also damaged but continued to pursue the BMW.
Approximately one minute later, the BMW crossed the centre line and crashed into a Honda Jazz. The three elderly occupants, and two of the BMW’s occupants, were seriously injured.
The Authority also finds that the operational planning and co-ordination undertaken by the Christchurch Organised Crime Unit and the AOS in preparation for the armed operation was poor. This includes the failure to tell Police Communications about the operation, to liaise with Christchurch Airport or to consider the implications of undertaking an armed vehicle stop at Christchurch Airport.
Authority Chair, Judge Sir David Carruthers, said: “This Police operation and pursuit had an extremely unfortunate outcome for three innocent members of the public. Mr X is in the most part responsible for the circumstances that led to the crash.
However, this incident also highlights the importance of good forward planning and the need to keep others appropriately ‘in the loop’ when Police conduct overt operations in the community.
I acknowledge that Canterbury Police have made substantial changes to local practices as a result of this incident.”