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Northland officers were justified in firing shot during car chase, watchdog finds

Northland police officers who engaged in a car chase and fired a shot were justified in doing so, a report from the Independent Police Conduct Authority has found.

The incident, on February 22 last year, took place in rural Whangārei.

Northland District Commander Superintendent Tony Hill said two officers noticed a vehicle driving dangerously and attempted to pull it over. The driver failed to stop, at which point a pursuit was initiated.

"During the pursuit, the vehicle rammed the police car three times and one of its passengers presented what appeared to be a firearm at the officers," Mr Hill said.

The officers believed they were in imminent danger of serious harm and one of them fired their pistol in self-defence, he said.

The IPCA report found the officers involved were justified in engaging a pursuit, and the officer who fired a shot was legally justified in doing so.

"This incident highlights how unpredictable policing can be," Mr Hill said. "I am thankful that no police staff or member of our community was injured during this incident."

He said police often make split-second decisions in fast moving and "often very volatile" situations.

"But they still go out every day to keep our community safe and I always back them to make the right decision," he said.

A file image of two police officers.
A file image of two police officers. Source: rnz.co.nz