Police were "unjustified" in pursuing a car through the
streets of Auckland at speeds of up to 150km/h, a chase which
ended in a fatal crash, the Independent Police Conduct
Authority has found.
Api Kao Aue, 33, was killed and his two passengers seriously
injured when his Subaru Impreza spun out of control and
slammed into a street sign on Kirkbride Rd in Mangere late on
December 4, 2010.
He was more than two times the legal breath alcohol limit
when he fled police at excessive speeds in the 60km/h
The two officers involved were in an unmarked patrol car when
they saw the Subaru travelling fast through Mangere Bridge
and followed it.
They told the authority it suddenly accelerated to an
estimated 100km/h and overtook another vehicle without using
It drove past a traffic island on the wrong side of the road
and remained in the wrong lane for some time.
The officer driving the police car, referred to in the
authority report as Officer A, then turned on the warning
lights and sirens. They were still several hundred metres
behind Mr Kao Aue's car.
The officers said they did not immediately notify the police
communications centre or other police units because they
weren't sure he was trying to evade them.
However, when they failed to catch up to the car, Officer B
told the communications dispatcher they were in pursuit of a
Police policy requires that once a pursuit has commenced the
dispatcher must give the warning: "If there is any
unjustified risk to any person you are to abandon pursuit
The dispatcher gave this warning to Officer B, who
immediately responded: "Yeah acknowledged comms, current
speed 150, traffic medium, he's just spun out and he's
crashed crashed crashed, vehicle's gone down, we'll need
Mr Kao Aue had lost control while taking a bend and crashed
into a steel sign post on a grassy verge.
Only one of Mr Kao Aue's passengers was able to be
interviewed by the authority. He said he had made numerous
requests for Mr Kao Aue to slow down but he responded by
turning up the music in the car.
The passenger hadn't known police were following and said no
one in the car had mentioned it.
Officer A said he he had felt at the time that the speed they
were travelling at was safe in the circumstances.
But Officer B said: "I remember thinking when I first
informed comms of our speed, it was a bit quick."
Officer A told the authority there was no traffic on the
roads at the time, despite Officer B having told the
dispatcher traffic was "medium".
"The authority finds that the traffic density during ... the
pursuit was medium. The evidence also established the
presence of pedestrian traffic, as well as people getting in
and out of parked cars, at the time."
In its report, released today, the authority said the
officers had complied with the law in commencing the pursuit
and in respect of the communication they'd had with the
However, for a short time the pursuit reached a speed of
150km/h in a 60km/h speed zone, "which was not justified by
the circumstances and was contrary to policy".
"Api Kao Aue demonstrated by his actions that he was prepared
to risk his life and the lives of others by driving in the
manner that he did.
"Other than the high speed reached by Officer A, the pursuit
was conducted in accordance with policy.
"The extremely high speed reached for a short time by Officer
A during the pursuit was unjustified."
The IPCA recommended that "Officer A is reminded of the risks
of pursuing at such a high speed".