A police chase which killed two men in Te Puke had become dangerous to the public and should have been abandoned earlier than it was, the Independent Police Conduct Authority has found.A police chase which killed two men in Te Puke had become dangerous to the public and should have been abandoned earlier than it was, the Independent Police Conduct Authority has found.
The authority is releasing today the findings of its investigation into an incident where Harley Kendrick Sean Wilson, 21, and his passenger, Michael Adam Kaui Keepa, 25, were killed in a crash after a police pursuit in Te Puke.
The pair died at the scene when their stolen Toyota Hilux crashed on Jellicoe St after a 17-minute police chase on October 8, 2010.
The Independent Police Conduct Authority's inquiry into the chase found unacceptably high speeds involved were dangerous to the public.
Police say they have carried out investigations and implemented the IPCA's recommendations in their report.
They said no police officer wanted anyone to lose their life and wanted to work to help people.
According to the report, the pair stole the vehicle from a Levin home at 2.30 that morning and travelled to Tauranga.
They spent some time in a Mount Maunganui bar and drove away at 4.10am.
The Hilux was first spotted at 5.15am on Maunganui Rd by two police officers who decided to stop it and breath test the driver.
When the officers turned on their warning lights and siren, Mr Wilson drove away. The two police officers chased the truck as there wasn't a lot of traffic around and roads were dry.
Throughout the chase, speeds reached up to 140km/h. Minutes after the chase started, another patrol car set up road spikes and a dog patrol unit was called as Mr Wilson drove towards a dead end on Papamoa Beach Rd.
Mr Wilson avoided the spikes and did a u-turn. At 5.27am, the pursuit controller advised the officers to abandon the chase.
But another patrol car was coming to help the chase and when the officer saw Mr Wilson a couple of minutes later, he radioed the pursuit controller to ask for permission to continue the chase.
Mr Wilson was then pursued by three police cars to Te Puke, reaching speeds up to 160km/h until the chase was abandoned at 5.33am.
Around the same time, Mr Wilson lost control and slid across a small bridge, mounted the kerb and crashed down a grass bank into a reserve on the left side of the road, where he hit a lamp post and smashed into a tree.
The authority said the first car on Maunganui Rd should have abandoned the chase when unacceptably high speeds were reached as it became dangerous to the public.
The second pursuit should have been abandoned when it was obvious Mr Wilson was going to keep speeding dangerously.
The officers would not be criminally liable.
It was also found that the pursuing officers had not been telling communications staff the speed limits of the roads as the chase was taking place.
The officers who were to lay the road spikes had not been sure if they had the equipment in their car.
The authority recommended that all frontline and communications staff involved in the pursuit be reminded of the risks of pursuing at such a high speed.
They said all staff were reminded of the importance of carrying out a pre-deployment check of their patrol car and the equipment carried in it before use and of ensuring that the equipment was in a safe operating condition.
Bay of Plenty District Commander Superintendent Glenn Dunbier said recommendations made by the IPCA had been carried out.
"The officers involved have been reminded of the need to carry out pre-deployment checks of the equipment and the risks associated with high-speed pursuits. Reminders of this nature are also issued on a routine basis to all staff across the Bay of Plenty," Mr Dunbier said.
He said police officers went to work to help people and no officer wanted anyone to lose their life. He said police also carried out thorough investigations into the incident and found the officers were justified in initially trying to stop the vehicle.
"Police have a responsibility to both protect life and to enforce the law and it is often a difficult balance to strike," he said.
"What the investigations showed is that although the pursuit had been abandoned shortly before the crash, it should have been abandoned earlier.
"We expressed our sympathy to the family of Mr Harley Wilson and Mr Michael Keepa ... and we reiterate those sentiments today."