Police use family as human shield roadblock Melbourne

Police use family as human shield roadblock Melbourne

Unread postby lazerzap » Thu Jan 16, 2014 7:34 pm

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Published on 16 May 2012
Civilians - including one driver who had two children in his ute - were ordered to form a roadblock to help police stop a speeding hoon on a major freeway after a failed police pursuit.

David Rendina said police ordered civilians to form a roadblock on the Hume Freeway, about a kilometre before the Western Ring Road, at Epping, on Saturday morning.

Mr Rendina, who was travelling with his partner and children, aged eight and nine, said the officers told drivers to fill the two lanes of the freeway as well as the emergency lane, in an attempt to stop the speeding car.

A police pursuit had initially started at Benalla, about 200 kilometres north-east of Melbourne, but was terminated after three minutes because of the driver's erratic behaviour and high speeds.

The car was then spotted on the Hume Freeway just after 11am and was tracked by the police air wing through Wallan, Kalkallo and Craigieburn.

Mr Rendina said he was the last of three vehicles in the emergency lane.

"I pretty much knew I was a sitting duck," he told ABC radio 774 this morning.

"I just remember seeing him speeding towards me and going, 'Well there's nothing I can do here, I just have to sit here'."

He said the speeding driver crashed into his car and several others as he tried to navigate the roadblock.

However, he was arrested by police, who then took statements from drivers who suffered damage.

Mr Rendina said he did not believe it was worth putting the lives of his children at risk to stop a stolen car.

''I was in a position where I couldn't go forwards, I couldn't go backwards, I was stuck there,'' he said. ''Anything could have happened.''

The electrician said his Nissan Navara ute has been left undrivable and he is unable to work. He said his children had nightmares about the incident.

Victoria Police Assistant Commissioner Stephen Fontana said the incident would be reviewed and it was unclear how civilians came to be involved.

"This guy was driving like a maniac to be quite frank," Mr Fontana told ABC 774.

"Some of these situations are very difficult to deal with.

"Our members are thinking on their feet and it's often very difficult for them."

A female driver, 'Natalie', who was also caught up in the roadblock described the actions of police as "suicidal".

''Everything came to an absolute dead halt,'' she told ABC 774.

''I could see the cars stopped ahead of me and I saw the car coming super fast down the emergency lane and I just said to my son, 'Oh no, he's going to kill himself or kill the people in front of him'... I think it was suicidal.''

Melton man Ashley Steel faced 17 charges relating to the pursuit in the Melbourne Magistrates Court yesterday.

Steel, 19, has been charged with theft of a motor car, two counts of theft, four charges of reckless conduct endangering life and traffic offences.

The learner driver was remanded to face the same court on August 7.

Steel was allegedly overtaking other motorists on the freeway before colliding with four cars and a concrete barrier in an emergency lane while travelling about 30 km/h.

He was taken to hospital with minor injuries. Nobody else was hurt.

A police spokeswoman said on Saturday that officers did not start a pursuit on the Hume Freeway due to safety reasons.

Today, Mr Fontana said the driver had allegedly reached speeds of up to 200km/h on the freeway.

''The air wing were extremely concerned about his driving. They said 'If we don't stop this bloke, he's going to kill someone and himself,'' he said.

Mr Fontana said this put the officers ''in a bit of dilemma'' and a decision was made to slow traffic before it reached the city.

''It was quite clear that the driver of this car needed to be stopped,'' he said.

''If we had have let him go we could have ended up with a fatality down the road.''

On Friday, police released an inspectorate review evaluation of pursuits.

The report found that police pursuit practices were "sound and improving" but that it was unacceptable that fatalities resulting from police chases continued to make up about one per cent of the road toll.

There were three fatal pursuits last year, the most since 2006. The worst year for pursuit fatalities in the past decade was 2002, when six deaths were recorded.

The report made 11 recommendations, including a directive for project teams to research the capacity of mobile data and in car video to assist pursuit controllers and coordinators.

It was also recommended that all pursuits be reported to a divisional pursuit review panel to assess all pursuits and submit conclusions to the centre for operational safety.
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