A respected police officer has been convicted for running two red lights in central Auckland in excess of 150km/h while pursuing a fleeing car.
A judge has described the man’s driving as dangerous, noting that at that speed it would have taken 160 metres for the patrol vehicle to stop.
The law requires anyone using lights and sirens through an intersection not to exceed 20km/h.
Last year, an Auckland District Court judge found Andrew Dimitri Gan guilty of driving in a manner that was dangerous to the public and convicted him.
He was not disqualified from driving.
In October 2018, Gan was on patrol with his partner near Auckland Domain which had been targeted in a number of recent burglaries.
A suspicious car caught the eye of the officers.
Gan noted its registration and sought a National Intelligence Application (NIA) check, learning it was wanted for failing to stop at an incident three weeks prior.
The vehicle stopped, but when Gan’s partner got out of the patrol car it took off at speed.
A 16.5km pursuit ensued, spanning nine minutes, until the Eagle helicopter was overhead.
Judge Ema Aitken said Gan had been travelling in excess of 100km/h before reaching Symonds St.
Once on the city road he travelled at an average speed of 154-156km/h while going through two red lights.
The first red light had been showing for over 10 seconds.
The second had shown only for about 1.5 seconds but another car was waiting to turn left facing a green light for about 0.6 of a second.
“At those speeds, travelling through those red lights, it would have taken you
up to 160 metres to stop had you been required to,” Judge Aitken said.
“In those situations, I was well satisfied that your driving was dangerous.”
The fleeing car was eventually abandoned, the four occupants all fled but were arrested, with the driver ultimately charged with offending.
Judge Aitken said she had the benefit of hearing evidence from Gan’s four superior officers, all of whom regarded him as a “very competent driver” in pursuit and “well qualified” in his field.
“There is no evidence at all that any of your driving on that night could be described as
flamboyant or with a sense of entitlement on the basis of your status as a police officer
in pursuit,” she said.
The judge was satisfied there did not need to be any driving disqualification on the grounds of special reasons.
It was to his credit that Gan did not seek a discharge without conviction, she said.
A conviction could have ongoing consequences on his career, she said.
“For all of those reasons, Mr Gan, unusually but appropriately in my view, you are simply convicted and discharged.”
Auckland City District Commander Superintendent Karyn Malthus said a review found on multiple occasions Gan breached police policy during the incident.
On multiple occasions, Gan breached the legislative requirement for travelling under 20km/h through an intersection under lights and sirens, she said.
“While police have abilities under legislation to urgent duty drive, there should be a focus on the level of risk posed to staff and members of the public in determining what speed is appropriate.”
Decisions to charge police staff were “not taken lightly” and police conduct matters must be taken seriously and investigated thoroughly.
Fleeing driver incidents are often “fast-moving and evolving” situations for our staff on the ground.
“However, safety of the public and our staff is paramount and in this case a decision was made to charge the officer concerned,” Malthus said.
“The public rightly hold police officers to high standards.”
An internal employment investigation has been completed with Gan.
“Police, like any other employer, have privacy obligations to its employees and is unable to comment on the outcome of the investigation.
“However, police can say that Mr Gan is considered a valued member of police who is getting on with his job.”
Gan did not wish to comment.
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