Police used 'excessive force' on fleeing driver

The Independent Police Conduct Authority says excessive force was used during a fleeing driver incident in Christchurch almost three years ago.

On September 30, 2017, police pursued a ute on Linwood Ave, which they believed to be stolen, after it failed to stop for officers.

Spikes were deployed and the ute entered Latimer Square, where it drove around the park a number of times before crashing into a police vehicle.

The occupants of the vehicle were arrested.

The authority found while some level of force may have been required during the arrest due to the behaviour of the ute’s occupants, other options could have been taken and there was excessive force used against the driver during his arrest, including the use of a police dog.

The authority found using the dog was unjustified in the circumstances.

The IPCA found the decision to pursue the driver was justified but it found the way the situation was handled once the vehicle came to a stop was not satisfactory.

Superintendent John Price. Photo: NZ Herald
Superintendent John Price. Photo: NZ Herald
The actions of the officer involved were dealt with as a performance and training issue, and the dog handler's actions were addressed by a supervisor.

Two other officers involved in the incident also undertook further training and discussion.

Canterbury district commander Superintendent John Price said while the incident was a challenging and dynamic one, some actions taken by officers were unsuitable in the circumstances.

“The officers were dealing with a motivated offender determined to avoid arrest, and who was willing to risk the safety of others through his manner of driving.

“However as the authority’s report has highlighted there were a number of areas where the officers’ actions did not meet the standard required of them. 

“Our officers are committed to doing the right thing with the right intent in their work to protect the public and make sure people are safe.

"However, we accept that during this incident there were issues with some aspects of their response.

“A number of the officers involved have received further training and guidance to assist when dealing with situations like this in the future," he said.

Superintendent Price said when police tell you to stop or pull over, do it.

"The actions we take as police are to make sure that everyone in our communities is safe and feels safe at all times,” he said.

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