The Independent Police Conduct Authority has found two officers were justified in shooting a man following a domestic incident in the Waikato.
The Kerepehi man, aged 50 at the time, was shot seven times by police after he pointed a rifle at two officers on October 21, 2014. He survived the shooting, but suffered several serious injuries.
Though the IPCA completed its investigation into the incident in October 2015, the authority delayed the release of its public report until after the conclusion of related court proceedings in March this year.
“The two officers who fired shots at the man were justified in doing so because he posed a very real threat of death or serious bodily harm to them and other nearby officers,” says IPCA chair Judge Sir David Carruthers.
“When the man pointed his rifle at the officers, other tactical options were not viable or appropriate.”
According to the report, the man’s partner called police at 9.49pm and told them he’d held a sawn-off shotgun to her head and threatened to shoot her.
Local officers were immediately dispatched, while the Waikato Armed Offenders Squad and Police Negotiation Team were also deployed.
Over the next hour, police maintained contact with the partner who told them the man had a bulletproof vest and would shoot officers if he saw them.
It was also determined the man had a history of assaulting police, drug use, carrying a knife, and unlawfully carrying firearms.
At about 10.43pm the partner advised police she and the man were about to drive to Ngatea and the man was carrying a shotgun and a rifle.
As AOS and PNT had not yet arrived, some local officers headed in that direction with the intention of stopping the man before he reached Ngatea.
On the way to Ngatea, the man drove over road spikes that had been deployed on Kerepehi Town Road. Shortly after, two armed officers in a police car signalled him to stop. The man pulled over and the police car stopped a short distance away.
The two armed officers got out and commanded the man to put his hands in the air, but the man stepped out of his car and pointed a rifle towards the officers. Fearing they were going to be shot at, the two officers fired a total of seven shots at the man, incapacitating him.
“Police responded appropriately to this incident as it developed and provided all reasonable assistance to the man after he was shot,” says Sir David.
Police have accepted the findings of today’s report, which concluded the man posed a very real threat of death or serious bodily harm to the two officers and others nearby.
Acting Waikato Police District Commander Superintendent Greg Nicholls says the officers involved in this incident were confronted with a very difficult situation.
“The officers did not want to shoot the man and other tactical options were considered, but given the risk he posed, they were left with no other option," says Mr Nicholls.
Police also note the IPCA states officers provided all reasonable medical assistance to the man after he was shot.