The Independent Police Conduct Authority has found that a Police officer was justified in firing shots from a pistol at Murray Allan in Christchurch on 4 February 2017. Mr Allan received minor injuries to his head.
On the evening of 3 February 2017, Christchurch Police officers were briefed that a safety alert had been issued for Mr Allan and that he was likely to be in possession of firearms, including a pistol, a shot gun and an AK47 assault rifle. Consequently the shift commander advised officers that they may carry firearms during their shift if they believed it necessary.
At about 2am, while conducting other enquiries, an officer recognised Mr Allan sitting in the front passenger seat of a car parked near St Luke’s reserve, Woolston. The officer called his partner over to the car and, noticing drug equipment inside, informed the driver that Police intended to search the vehicle.
The officer then stepped away from the car and requested back up over the radio, advising that he had located Mr Allan. Within a few minutes a third officer arrived at the scene. The first officer directed Mr Allan to get out of the car with his hands up and to put his hands on the roof of the vehicle. Instead Mr Allan remained in the car, pulled a pistol from a backpack lying at his feet and brought it to bear at that officer.
The first officer yelled a warning to the others of the presence of a firearm and quickly stepped away from the vehicle. The third officer, who was by then adjacent to the car, immediately drew his Glock pistol and fired seven shots in quick succession towards Mr Allan who still had his pistol pointed at the first officer. The first bullet went through the windscreen and fragmented on the window frame; a fragment of the bullet then struck Mr Allan in the forehead, causing a minor wound. The other six shots hit the bonnet of the car.
The Authority determined that the officer was justified in firing shots at Mr Allan, because he believed on reasonable grounds that Mr Allan posed an immediate threat of death or grievous bodily harm and that he needed to shoot Mr Allan to defend himself and the other officers.
“The officer was aware that a safety alert had been issued for Mr Allan and that he was considered a ‘significant risk’ to Police officers and members of the public. Given Mr Allan’s decision to present a pistol at the officers in a manner indicating an intention to shoot, it was not practical or realistic for the officer to use a lower level of force” said Authority Chair, Judge Colin Doherty.
The Authority also found that the officers were justified in arming themselves at the start of their shift, and that they provided Mr Allan with appropriate medical assistance after he was wounded.