A police officer who was driving at high-speed to attend a
reported home invasion when he hit an unrelated vehicle,
killing a mother-of-four on her way to church, has today been
cleared of any wrongdoing.
The death of Liku Onesi, 47, who died when the 4WD Mitsubishi
Pajero driven by her husband Ikenasio was turning into the
Tongan Methodist Church in Flat Bush, Auckland, when it was
struck by the police car, has been ruled a "tragic accident"
by the police watchdog.
The Independent Police Conduct Authority (IPCA) concluded
that the accident involved "unique circumstances that were
not reasonably foreseeable'' by the experienced officer, who
was shift supervisor at Ormiston Road police station.
The officer had engaged in urgent duty driving down Ormiston
Road on August 22 last year, which involved him driving at
speed with the patrol car's red and blue flashing lights and
The Onesis had turned across the busy road, heading for the
church driveway, without seeing the police officer, who
braked hard but could not avoid the collision.
Mrs Onesi's passenger side took the brunt of the impact, and
she was flung from the vehicle. She died in the ambulance on
the way to hospital.
The finding was one of two IPCA rulings out today involving
police driving in Auckland last year.
In the other case, police driving at speed was also justified
and deemed lawful in an incident that left two young men
fleeing police on a motorbike with serious injuries.
Teenager Akshay Fenn was carrying a passenger on his
motorcycle despite holding only a restricted bike licence
when he fled police after being signalled to stop when
recorded speeding and travelling in a bus lane in Mt Eden on
July 28 last year.
He tried to evade police by weaving in and out of traffic and
driving through a red light.
As the officer in pursuit of Mr Fenn turned a corner he saw
the motorcycle, about 300 metres ahead, collide with another
vehicle and both men were tossed from the bike.
Mr Fenn suffered several fractures to both legs while his
passenger sustained a serious head injury. The driver of the
other vehicle suffered minor injury.
"This was an accident caused by the actions of 17-year-old Mr
Fenn that resulted in serious injury to himself and his
passenger,'' said IPCA chair Judge Sir David Carruthers.
The Authority made no recommendations in either case.
"While in these instances the Authority has not found any
breaches of police policy, the Authority is continuing its
discussions with police about a review of policies
connected with the pursuit of fleeing drivers,'' Sir David
"This is due to the conflict between the often prescriptive
nature of the relevant polices and the reality of a
fast-paced, time-pressured situation.''
Counties Manukau Police today
accepted the findings and extended "deepest sympathies'' to
the Onesi family.
"Police work hard to ensure the safety of our community and
this is something we never want to see happen,'' said
district commander Superintendent John Tims.
"Police are highly trained in urgent response driving and as
stated in the report, the circumstances of the crash were not
reasonably foreseeable by the officer involved. In a high
pressure situation the officer acted as per his training and
police policy dictated.
"That said, the outcome was an absolute tragedy and we have
worked closely with the Onesi family to support them since