A 24-year-old Perth rider has died after a woman who had been involved in a police pursuit crashed into him early Thursday morning on the wrong side of the road.
Jordan Thorsager was riding his Kawasaki on the Leach highway just after midnight when he was hit head-on by the driver.
Police say they were not pursuing the woman at the time of the crash, but confirm they had been chasing her “on and off” over the previous hour. She was wanted on an arrest warrant.
Western Australia Police Major Crash investigators and police Internal Affairs officers are investigating the pursuit and are calling for witnesses.
Surprisingly, his family is willing to forgive the driver and does not question police conduct.
Police may not have been pursuing the woman at the time of the crash, but did their pursuit over the previous hour affect the driving behaviour of the woman?
A 24-year-old man is now dead after police pursued a woman wanted on an arrest warrant for matters not made public. Does that seem like a fair outcome from a pursuit?
The 2009 Australian Institute of Criminology study found the three most pressing issues for police reform around the world are use of force, policing of violence in families and high-speed pursuits.
It also found deaths in custody at police stations are declining but “deaths in custody” as a result of high-speed pursuits were rising.
While less than 1% of police pursuits results in a fatal crash, 38% of the people killed are innocent bystanders.
It’s much worse in the USA where one person dies every day as a result of a police pursuit. Of those deaths, 1% are police, 55% suspects and 44% bystanders.
Most police procedures acknowledge the judgement of the officer at the scene to begin a pursuit.
However, continuation of the pursuit is then deferred to a senior officer at the station or headquarters.
They have to make a quick judgement based on the lethal risk to the community of the chase versus the lethal risk to the community of letting a serious offender escape.
This must be backed by information, not just mere suspicion.
Queensland police figures show only about 3% of pursuits involved imminent threat to life or a suspect escaping after a homicide.
Police have a duty to not only prevent and control crime, but more importantly, they have a duty to protect the community and that includes from their own reckless behaviour and judgement.
Despite criticism from police unions, most pursuit policies around the world, including the USA, are becoming more restrictive.
In many jurisdictions, pursuits are only allowed if there is a serious risk to public safety or in relation to a major crime involving death or injury.
However, there is an issue about making these pursuit policies public. Some say they should be public to show transparency while others believe it would give criminals clues on how to evade police.
Those who support pursuits point out that the number of people evading police is rising as a result of more restrictive pursuit policies, despite higher penalties for evading police.
Making the issue more complex is the degree of the pursuit.
Should there be an upper speed limit for police? Should police be allowed to break other road rules in the pursuit?
There have been incidences of police driving at more than 200km/h in a pursuit and on the road side of a major highway.
Another issue is whether police should be criminally culpable in the instance of a death resulting from a pursuit.
To a degree, technologies such as CTV and automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) devices, negate the need for pursuits.
WA police have ANPR, but it is not known whether it was available in the pursuit patrol vehicle.
In some cases, APNR may actually trigger a police pursuit.