Source: New Zealand Police (District News)
Police acknowledge a report by the Independent Police Conduct Authority (IPCA), which found that Police officers were justified in firing shots at a man who had fired a shotgun at Police multiple times during an incident on the Northern Motorway.
On October 19, 2018, Police detectives located a wanted man who had escaped from the Waitakere District Court, along with another man who was wanted to arrest, in Blockhouse Bay.
The man fired a shotgun at officers as the pair attempted to escape in a vehicle.
The Armed Offenders Squad (AOS) were called and these officers followed the vehicle as it travelled up the Northern Motorway.
On multiple occasions the man fired his shotgun at the AOS officers. A member of the public also reported being shot at by the man.
In order to effect the arrest of the men responsible for the extreme and deadly risk faced by our staff and the general public, the AOS officers fired shots at the man in the fleeing vehicle who had fired at Police. He sustained only minor injuries.
The two men continued to flee from Police along the Kaipara Coast Highway before both men were eventually arrested.
The man who escaped custody was sentenced to 10 years and 10 months for serious charges related to this incident and unrelated offences. The other man involved was sentenced to 7 years and 6 months imprisonment.
Police reviewed this incident and found that the officers were justified in shooting at the armed man, which the IPCA has also agreed with.
Inspector Mark Fergus, Acting Waitemata District Commander, says that was an extremely dangerous and potentially deadly incident where there was a serious risk to the safety of our staff and the general public.
“The AOS officers involved were part of our Special Tactics Group (STG), which is a specialist group that receives a much higher level of training than general frontline officers. These officers are exceptionally skilled and highly-trained to deal with extreme high-risk situations.
“As the IPCA notes in their report, the actions of this man were highly dangerous and extremely reckless, and the consequences for our staff, road users and the general public could have been deadly.
“The IPCA found the armed offender was an immediate and deadly threat to our officers and the public and our AOS officers acted with urgency to resolve the high-risk situation and prevent any harm to our staff or the general public.
“I want to acknowledge and commend the actions of our staff who, despite fearing for their own lives, bravely responded in the face of very-real danger to protect others and apprehend these dangerous offenders.”
The IPCA also identified some learnings from this event around the control of this incident as it unfolded and the information provided to our responding officers, and these lessons have been implemented.
The authority also found that staff in the custody area at the Waitakere District Court where the man escaped did not have proper training or supervision. This has been addressed and a new risk alert system has been introduced for staff at the custody unit.
“This was a high-pressure and quickly unfolding situation where our exceptionally skilled and courageous staff had to make immediate decisions to protect themselves and the public from a dangerous armed offender,” says Inspector Fergus.
Nick Baker/NZ Police