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Two Men Die In Crash While Fleeing Police In Wellington

The Independent Police Conduct Authority has found that two officers at Wellington were not responsible for a car crash that resulted in the deaths of two men, notwithstanding breaches of Police policy during the incident.

In the early hours of 26 March 2023, a car heading into Wellington’s CBD was seen speeding through a red light by two officers in a patrol car. The officers decided to stop the car and followed with emergency lights and siren activated. It transpired the speeding car was being driven by a man under the influence of drugs and alcohol, who, on seeing the Police car, sped up to avoid apprehension.

Just over a kilometre later, the driver lost control on a corner and crashed. The driver and a passenger died, and three other passengers suffered injuries.

We consider it was appropriate for the Police to try and stop the car. However, by activating the emergency lights and siren in their attempt to do so, it is likely that Police inadvertently influenced the intoxicated driver to continue to drive dangerously.

We also found that the officers breached Police policy, but this was not a causative factor in the fatal crash. The two officers had recently graduated from the Police College and while we do not consider this was a feature in the incident, more experienced officers may have considered how a fleeing driver would react and may have used the Police radio more promptly.

Police have subsequently enhanced their training in this area.

The Authority acknowledges this matter involves the deaths of two young men and we extend our sympathy to their families.

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