26 Jul 2010

Fatal pursuit 'plagued by communications problems'

3:05 pm on 26 July 2010

A police pursuit in February 2007 that ended in the death of a 14-year old boy was plagued with communication difficulties, says the Independent Police Conduct Authority.

In releasing its report on Monday, the authority says the chase, which started in Tauranga, should have been abandoned in its later stage.

Pehi Tahana from Rotorua was driving a stolen car that crashed after running over road spikes laid by police in south Waikato. He died at the scene.

The authority found that the 44-kilometre pursuit was handled according to police policy in the early stages, but significant policy breaches occurred in the final stage.

The report says a combination of factors should have led to the pursuit controller abandoning the chase.

It says the use of road spikes to stop a vehicle travelling at more than 100 kilometres an hour was a breach of policy.

It says that in the final stages of the pursuit police patrols and dispatchers at the Northern Communications Centre encountered serious communication difficulties as the vehicles travelled through an area covered by three police radio channels.

The authority says the risk posed by continuing the pursuit outweighed the need to apprehend the driver immediately.