Annual Report 2017-2018 OmbudsmanNT
Tabled paper 934
Tabled Papers for 13th Assembly 2016 - 2020; Tabled Papers; ParliamentNT
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65 POLICE CONDUCT CASE STUDIES Case 1 - Struck by police vehicle Officer A was the driver of a police vehicle that collided with the complainant who was fleeing after being arrested. On becoming aware that the complainant was fleeing, with the stated intention of blocking the complainants escape, the officer drove through a zebra crossing and turned across an oncoming traffic lane, mounting a kerb, applying his brakes and travelling between two traffic sign poles before coming into contact with the complainant in a car park. The police vehicle came to a halt within a short space after impact. The complainant bounced off the vehicle and came to rest around 2 metres in front of the vehicle. An ambulance was called and the complainant was taken to hospital. Fortunately, he does not appear to have been seriously injured although his legal advisers stated, some four months after the incident, that he had residual stiffness and soreness. The officer stated that at no time did he have any intention of initiating contact between the vehicle and the complainant. He stated he was simply trying to use the side of the vehicle to block the complainants path, to either slow him down or cause him to change direction to allow police pursuing on foot to catch him. I accepted that there was insufficient evidence to support a finding that the officer intended to hit the complainant. Rather, as the Officer in Charge of the NT Police Operational Safety Section put it: it falls into the category of "Well-intentioned mistakes that result in undesired uses of force", and that [Officer A] has failed to "maintain a safe distance" . An NT Police crash analysis conducted at the time was later supplemented by a Victoria Police review. The NT report concluded that the vehicle commenced changing its course towards the car park about 2.5 seconds before impact. About one second prior to impact, the vehicle mounted the raised median and there was evidence of anti-lock brake activation. Shortly after this there was a steering input to the left but in the short time remaining before impact there was a steering input to the right, away from the complainant. The reports varied slightly but put the speed at commencement of braking at around 50-56 km/hr and the speed on impact at around 20-25 km/hr. The NT investigator later commented that, although he conducted testing under controlled conditions, in conducting tests at speeds between 42 and 52 km/hr, he did not feel comfortable travelling at the speeds along the path travelled. He stated, To conduct the manoeuvre required concentration to direct the vehicle along the path whilst avoiding static hazards, pole, kerbs, etc. It would not have been possible for me to track a moving subject and ensure there were no vehicular or pedestrian traffic that would be placed at risk. Consideration I noted that there were a number of risks inherent in Officer A taking the action he did, including: travelling through the zebra crossing at speed, the approach to which was somewhat obscured for drivers and pedestrians - fortunately, no one was entering the crossing at the time; crossing over the west-bound traffic lane - Officer A had clear vision of the road and there was no oncoming traffic; mounting the kerb at a speed of around 50 km/hr could have caused the vehicle to deviate from its intended course, increasing risk of injury or damage; driving between two traffic poles with the potential to hit one or to have to swerve to avoid one;
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