IPCA rebukes police over bridge-jump chase

11:43 am on 7 September 2017

A police officer should not have been chasing a fleeing driver who leapt off the Auckland Harbour Bridge and died, the Independent Police Conduct Authority (IPCA) says.

Auckland Harbour Bridge 8 September 2016.

Auckland Harbour Bridge Photo: RNZ / Claire Eastham-Farrelly

Alaric Eccleston was in breach of home detention, had stolen a former girlfriend's car and was believed to have access to a firearm when police pursued him.

The IPCA said several cars were in a fast pursuit shortly before Mr Eccleston stopped his car at the top of the bridge and jumped.

Alaric Eccleston, who has been named as the man who leapt from Auckland Harbour Bridge after a 40-minute police chase.

Alaric Eccleston Photo: NZ Police

The officers said they had abandoned their chase when Mr Eccleston's driving deteriorated, and were just keeping him in their sights.

However, the authority said they were effectively pursuing him and that was a breach of police fleeing-driver policy.

In a statement, police said they acknowledged the findings that the chase should not have begun again.

"When it was safe to do so a pursuit was initiated but abandoned a short time later due to the dangerous driving by Alaric who hit two police cars which attempted to block him," the statement said.

"The IPCA found that this pursuit was conducted in accordance with police policy."

"A second pursuit was initiated when police considered it was safe to do so as the vehicle was heading back towards the North Shore.

"The offending vehicle then stopped on the peak of the Harbour Bridge, Alaric got out of the car and jumped off the bridge."