4 October 2012 - An independent investigation has found a Police officer was justified in shooting a man during an incident in Christchurch on 15 March 2012.
The Independent Police Conduct Authority has issued a summary report of its detailed investigation into the non-fatal shooting of 28 year old Zakariye Mohamed Hussein. The matter was reported to the Authority by Police, as required by law when an officer causes serious harm in the course of their duties.
Mr Hussein had broken into Redwood Primary School and threatened staff with a knife. He kidnapped a woman driving a food delivery truck near the school and forced her to drive. During the drive he stabbed her in the shoulder. When the vehicle stopped she jumped out and approached another motorist for help.
While the second driver was calling Police, Mr Hussein got into the passenger seat of the car, held a knife to the driver’s throat and forced him to drive. The second driver deliberately crashed his car into a wall. As he tried to escape from the car, he was stabbed six times by Mr Hussein.
A motorist in a third vehicle, a truck, stopped to help and confronted Mr Hussein with a pinch bar. In turn, he was threatened with the knives, as were three Police officers who arrived shortly afterwards.
Officer A was the first officer who tried to apprehend Mr Hussein, in Hoon Hay Rd. He was wearing stab-resistant body armour and holding a baton and pepper spray. Officer A ordered Mr Hussein to drop the knives and then discharged the spray, which fell short of Mr Hussein. He returned to his car to arm himself with a Glock pistol. He was not wearing ballistic armour.
Officers B and C arrived in another patrol car as events were unfolding. Officer B fired a Taser at Mr Hussein but a probe bounced off his clothing. Officer C then pepper sprayed him. Both the Taser and the spray were ineffective at stopping Mr Hussein.
Mr Hussein ran towards Officer A, who backed away and fired two shots from a distance of about two metres. Mr Hussein immediately fell to the ground.
Approximately 13 seconds elapsed between Officer B getting out of her patrol car and Mr Hussein being shot. Police officers arranged for medical assistance as soon as Mr Hussein was disarmed.
Conclusions and recommendations
The Authority’s investigation considered five key factors:
• Was Officer A justified in arming himself with a firearm and did he comply with all relevant Police policies?
• Was Officer A justified in shooting Mr Hussein and in the number of shots he fired?
• Were other tactical options considered before resorting to potentially lethal force?
• Did Police comply with all communications, command and control policies?
• Was all reasonable assistance provided to Mr Hussein after he was shot?
The Authority Chair, Judge Sir David Carruthers, said Police complied with the law in respect of firearm use and officers responded professionally to the unfolding events.
“The shooting was justified and Police considered or used other tactical options before resorting to a firearm,” Sir David said.
“The immediate actions of several officers in response to the threat posed by Mr Hussein demonstrated clear thinking and professionalism in a rapidly unfolding critical incident.”
Section 27(1) of the Independent Police Conduct Authority Act 1988 requires the Authority to form an opinion as to whether or not any act, omission, conduct, policy, practice or procedure was contrary to law, unreasonable, unjustified, unfair or undesirable. Section 27(2) enables the Authority to make recommendations.
Pursuant to section 27 the Authority has formed the opinion that the shooting was justified and no Police actions were contrary to law.
Police have advised the Authority that since this shooting, they are clarifying their policy regarding the requirement to wear ballistic body armour when drawing a firearm, and as such, the Authority makes no finding in that respect.
The Authority repeats a long-standing recommendation that Police develop a compulsory drug and alcohol testing policy for staff involved in critical incidents, although there is no reason to believe officers had consumed any alcohol/drugs in this case.
Mr Hussein pleaded guilty to weapons, kidnapping, wounding with intent and injuring with intent charges and on 20 September he was sentenced to a term of six and half years imprisonment.
NOTE: The Authority has chosen to not produce a full public report in light of its conclusions and in the interests of timely reporting. Police conduct in this case did not raise issues that require a full report in the public interest. This summary report serves as a statement of the facts of the shooting and of the Authority’s findings.