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Police should have stopped pursuit: IPCA

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 3/08/2016

Christchurch police should have called off a pursuit of a drug suspect before he crashed into another car, seriously injuring three elderly people, a review says.

Officers were chasing a suspected drug courier and another person from Christchurch Airport in November 2014 when the crash happened.

The armed offenders squad failed to stop the BMW at the airport but managed to block it about a kilometre away.

But the suspect hit an officer and continued to drive, later pushing a dog squad vehicle with two AOS officers inside, off the road.

About a minute later, while still being pursued, he crossed the centre line and collided with another car.

Three elderly people in that car, and two in the BMW, were seriously injured.

The Independent Police Conduct Authority has found while the suspect was for the most part responsible for the crash, the AOS officer in pursuit should not have tried to stop the BMW on his own.

"This police operation and pursuit had an extremely unfortunate outcome for three innocent members of the public," authority chairman Sir David Carruthers said.

Canterbury district commander, Superintendent John Price, says changes have already been implemented, including better planning for operations at the airport.

"While we fully accept the IPCA report and have implemented its recommendations, police always have to balance efforts to stop criminal activity with the paramount importance of public safety," he said.

The BMW driver was jailed for three years and two months and disqualified from driving for 18 months in June on seven charges relating to the crash.

The female passenger pleaded guilty to possessing methamphetamine with intent to supply and was sentenced to three months' community detention.

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