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Mana Whanonga Pirihimana Motuhake

Police shooting of a man at Vinegar Hill camp ground

6 August 2019


The Independent Police Conduct Authority has found that Police were justified in shooting a man in the arm at a campground in the Manawatu in December 2017.

The man had been behaving erratically and threatening his partner with a sawn-off rifle. Other campers called Police. Local Police and the Armed Offenders Squad (AOS) were dispatched to the campground.

Four local Police officers, including a Police dog handler, met about a kilometre away from the camp ground to plan their response. AOS officers were about 60 kilometres away from the camp ground. The four officers planned to observe the situation from a concealed location until the AOS arrived. They armed themselves in case the incident escalated.

The officers travelled to the camp ground and entered on foot. The man saw the officers, so they challenged him to give up his firearm. The man sped away from Police back into the camp ground.

Several campers had taken refuge inside a campervan. The man entered the campervan with his sawn-off rifle. He threatened the owner of the campervan and made him drive towards Police. When all the members of the public had escaped from the campervan, the man moved into the driver's seat. He aimed the sawn-off rifle first at one officer, then at the dog handler. The first officer fired at the man, hitting him in the arm.

The man strenuously resisted arrest and was bitten twice by the Police dog before he was handcuffed and given first aid. Police followed appropriate post-shooting procedures and gave the man proper aftercare.

Judge Colin Doherty, Authority Chair, said:

"Police were justified in firing at this man, and it was reasonable for them to do so in the circumstances. Similarly, deployment of the Police dog was justified. The man has since pleaded guilty to multiple charges relating to this day, including charges of using a firearm against a law enforcement officer."

The Authority also found that Police armed themselves in accordance with Police policy and exercised appropriate control and command over the incident.

Public Report

Police shooting of a man at Vinegar Hill camp ground (PDF 432 KB)

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