Constable Thomas Coventry, Superintendent Rob Critchlow and Constable Storm Rixon pose for a photo at Castle Hill Police Station. Superintendent Critchlow is leaving Hills Police Command to start a 12-month secondment as a visiting fellow at the Australian Institute of Police Management at Manly. (AAP Image/David Swift)
Constable Thomas Coventry, Superintendent Rob Critchlow and Constable Storm Rixon pose for a photo at Castle Hill Police Station. Superintendent Critchlow is leaving Hills Police Command to start a 12-month secondment as a visiting fellow at the Australian Institute of Police Management at Manly. (AAP Image/David Swift)

Fury after Raptor cops grounded over pursuit of danger man

TWO members of Strike Force Raptor, who arrested a man wanted for allegedly raping his ex-partner at gunpoint, shooting up her house and leading police on a wild chase, have been forced onto desk duties.

The officers were dressed down in front of their colleagues because of the tactics they used to end the pursuit.

The alleged offender, with a long criminal history involving weapons had evaded police at least four times during previous car chases over the past two months and on the morning of his arrest on January 29 was known to be in possession of a shotgun which he had ­already fired.

Tough stand...The work of the Raptor cops has been commended around the world. Picture: Supplied
Tough stand...The work of the Raptor cops has been commended around the world. Picture: Supplied


Police sources said the 26-year-old at one point went on the wrong side of the road in Western Sydney before the officer used his vehicle to hit the car to force it into a side street.

After they stopped the ­vehicle the man attempted to run and was tackled to the ground and handcuffed. A loaded shotgun was allegedly found in his car.

During the pursuit a vehicle was also hit sending it into a nearby resident with a motorist suffering whiplash.

Both officers, one an experienced highway patrol officer attached to Raptor and ­another a highly-trained specialist officer with the squad, are now under investigation and not allowed to drive police vehicles.

 

Superintendent Rob Critchlow. Picture: AAP
Superintendent Rob Critchlow. Picture: AAP

 

Former Strike Force Raptor Deborah Wallace.
Former Strike Force Raptor Deborah Wallace.

 

Senior police are looking at video from Polair which they believe raises some questions about the actions of the officers involved in the chase which led to their suspension.

The decision to investigate the pair was taken by the new commander of the unit, Detective Superintendent Rob Critchlow, and has angered many officers in the squad which has earned a fearsome reputation for crushing bikie gangs in NSW.

"This guy was known to be extremely dangerous and the officers should be commended, not reprimanded for their ­actions," said an officer familiar with the case. "In fact other senior officers had praised their efforts after the arrest, before they were later reprimanded.''

 

Strike Force Raptor has brought bikies gangs to their knees. Picture: Supplied
Strike Force Raptor has brought bikies gangs to their knees. Picture: Supplied

The Daily Telegraph has been told the driver had used tactics on at least four previous occasions to make police abort pursuits.

This time, knowing the alleged offender was probably armed, had shot at a house and was seen driving directly at other motorists, the officers believed they had to act.

The man was charged with 12 offences including resist arrest, aggravated sexual assault in company and deprive liberty stalk and intimidate a person, as well as firearm and traffic offences. He was refused bail.

NSW Police said: "Interim driving restrictions have been placed on involved officers while a review of the matter is undertaken."