The police watchdog has found a pursuit in Palmerston North last year should have been abandoned before a police car forced the fleeing vehicle to stop by shoving it against a wall.
The Independent Police Conduct Authority (IPCA) said the pursuit began after the driver of a stolen Subaru sped from the police, driving without headlights on the wrong side of the road and forcing an oncoming car to swerve to avoid collision.
It said the officer was unaware the driver - referred to as 'Mr X' - and the occupants were young teenagers.
Road spikes slowed the Subaru, and after the police car forced it to stop the driver charged at the officer with a screw driver.
The man was pepper-sprayed during the arrest, and he complained he had also been punched and kicked.
The IPCA said police should have ended the pursuit before a police car was needed to stop the Subaru.
"The authority found there were several points during the pursuit when Mr X's driving created unjustifiable risks and the pursuit should have been abandoned," the authority said.
"Some officers attempted to use tactics to stop the Subaru that they had not been trained in, and ultimately created risks that were not justified by the circumstances."
But the IPCA said the police used justifiable force to arrest the man and had not assaulted him.
Central District Commander Superintendent Chris de Wattignar said he fully supported the intent of the officer to stop this driver, but accept that things could have been done differently.
He said the police acknowledged the IPCA's findings.