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IPCA finds police pursuit should have been abandoned

IPCA finds police pursuit should have been abandoned

The Independent Police Conduct Authority today released its report on the death of a youth following the Police pursuit of Fabian Jessie Mika in Christchurch in early 2013.

The Authority has found that while the Police commencement of the pursuit was justified and appropriate the pursuit should have been abandoned when Mr Mika started to travel at speed on the wrong side of a dual carriageway.

On 22 February 2013 Mr Mika and his three passengers were travelling along New Brighton Road in a stolen Toyota Hilux when they passed a Police officer at speed. The officer, who estimated the vehicle was travelling at least 20kph over the 50kph speed limit, activated his patrol car’s lights and siren to signal the driver to stop.

Mr Mika failed to stop and based on his speed, which had increased to about 90kph in a 50kph zone, the officer decided to commence a pursuit. The officer was then advised that it was suspected the Hilux had been involved in an alleged aggravated robbery earlier in the evening.

The pursuit continued along Gloucester Avenue before Mr Mika turned left into the wrong side of Linwood Avenue (a dual carriageway). The officer the pursued him up the wrong side of the road at speed for 1.9 kilometres. He was twice ordered by Police communications to abandon the pursuit, as the risk created by Mr Mika’s speed on the wrong side of the Avenue was too great. However, he did not hear these orders. When the dispatcher gave a third order to abandon, this time heard by the officer, he immediately acknowledged the instruction, deactivated his patrol car’s lights and siren and pulled over near the Maces Road intersection.

After the officer abandoned the pursuit Mr Mika further accelerated along Dyers Road despite his passengers’ request to slow down. Approximately one minute later another Police patrol saw that the Hilux had crashed on Dyers Road in a reduced speed area of 50kph due to road works. Mr Mika’s front seat passenger later reported to Police that Mr Mika was travelling at about 150kph prior to the road works, where he lost control of the vehicle.

At the scene Police arrested two passengers, who had suffered minor injury, and commenced a search for Mr Mika, who had fled the scene uninjured. Mr Mika’s 15-year-old passenger died from injuries suffered in the crash.

In releasing this report Independent Police Conduct Authority Chair Judge, Sir David Carruthers said this pursuit lasted about five and a half minutes and covered approximately nine kilometres.

“In the early stages of the pursuit Police generally complied with policy. However, when Mr Mika continued to drive at high speed on the wrong side of a dual carriageway the officer should not have continued the pursuit.

“His decision to do so posed an unjustified risk to members of the public, the Police, Mr Mika and his passengers.

“However, this tragic incident was caused by the actions of Mr Mika who was an unlicensed driver at the time of the incident that killed his 15-year-old passenger and caused injury to others,” Sir David said.

On 10 September 2013 Mr Mika was sentenced in the Christchurch High Court to six years and nine months imprisonment after pleading guilty to charges of manslaughter, driving while forbidden, failing to stop or ascertain injury and failing to stop when followed by red and blue flashing lights. Mr Mika appealed against his sentence which the Court of Appeal dismissed on 12 December 2013.

“The Authority is continuing to work closely with Police to revise policies connected with the pursuit of fleeing drivers. It recommends that this revision introduces a strong presumption against pursuits on the wrong side of a dual carriageway that may be overridden only in highly exceptional circumstances,” Sir David said.


ends

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