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13 July 2017
The Independent Police Conduct Authority has found that a Police officer was justified in shooting Wattie Kahu twice in Whanganui on 24 March 2016. Mr Kahu survived the shooting but received injuries to his leg and head.
The Authority completed its investigation into this incident in March 2017, but delayed the release of its public report until after the conclusion of related court proceedings in May 2017.
On the morning of 24 March 2016, armed Police were searching several residential blocks following reports of suspicious activity and suspected burglary. They saw a man climbing over backyard fences and pointing what appeared to be a black pistol towards them.
The officers identified the man as Mr Kahu, who was wanted for arrest following a burglary several days earlier. They knew Mr Kahu had a violent criminal history, and had been advised that he had access to a firearm and was prepared to use it against Police.
When one officer drew his Taser, and chased Mr Kahu down a driveway and into the street, Mr Kahu turned and pointed his pistol at him. This officer fired his Taser Mr Kahu but it did not connect. At about the same time, another officer used his Glock pistol to fire two shots at Mr Kahu. Police then apprehended Mr Kahu and discovered he had been using an imitation firearm.
The Authority determined that the shooting was justified, because the officer who fired the shots believed Mr Kahu posed an immediate threat of grievous bodily harm or death.
“The officer considered that Mr Kahu had the capability and opportunity to shoot the other officer who was carrying the Taser, and that it was necessary to act immediately to prevent that from happening. It was reasonable for the officer to use his firearm in the circumstances”, said Authority Chair, Judge Sir David Carruthers.
The Authority also found that the officer who fired the Taser was justified in doing so, and that Police provided Mr Kahu with appropriate aftercare following the shooting. Additionally, Police managed their response to the reports of suspicious activity well, and reacted appropriately as the situation developed.