Police acted appropriately before Christchurch triple-fatal crash - IPCA

The police watchdog has found officers were justified in their actions ahead of a fiery crash that killed three teens in Christchurch.

Brothers Craig and Glen Mcallister, aged 13 and 16 and 13-year-old Brooklyn Taylor were killed when the stolen vehicle they were in hit spikes, then crashed into a tree following an abandoned pursuit.

The Independent Police Conduct Authority (IPCA) has found officers involved in the pursuit acted appropriately and deploying the spikes was justified.

In its decision, the watchdog says officers did not know the identity of the occupants.

The cause of the crash was the driver's attempt to avoid the spikes before running over them, the IPCA says.

"Officer D was justified in deploying road spikes to effect an arrest, under sections 39 and 40 under the Crimes Act 1961," Judge Colin Doherty says in his decision.

The crash wreck of the stolen white Mazda the three teens were in.
The crash wreck of the stolen white Mazda the three teens were in. Photo credit: New Zealand Police

The trio had fled from police when the stolen Mazda Familia they were in hit spikes laid by police, crashed into a tree and burst into flames on Blenheim Rd.

Judge Doherty says the three officers involved, only identified as Officers A, B, and C, took appropriate steps to ensure the pursuit was conducted safely.

L-R: Craig Mcallister, 13, Brooklyn Taylor, 13 and Glen Mcallister, 16.
L-R: Craig Mcallister, 13, Brooklyn Taylor, 13 and Glen Mcallister, 16. Photo credit: Facebook

"Officer B, the more experienced of the two officers, said he was aware there had been a recent spate of cars stolen and burnt by youths, but he had no idea as to who the occupants of the Mazda were on this occasion," the decision says.

"The authority engaged an experienced independent crash investigator to carry out a review of the police serious crash report."

According to the Automobile Association, police pursuits result in about 500 crashes per year.

In October, police defended its fatal pursuit track record, saying they're doing what they can to stop them from happening.

A quarterly update from its Fleeing Driver Action Plan was released, which found some police officers "consider it necessary to continue to pursue until the event is resolved", rather than abandon the chase when the risk to the public and the drivers gets too high.

Assistant Police Commissioner Sandra Venables told The AM Show in October officers are listening and taking on board criticism and suggestions.

"They're highly trained, and we have enabled them to go out and make decisions based on a risk assessment tool that we provide for them. On occasions, it goes really well, and we have a number of pursuits where.. we have abandoned them."

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