The Independent Police Conduct Authority has found that an officer was justified in shooting Hitesh Lal who was attacking him with a machete in Papatoetoe, Auckland.
Just after 1am on 20 April 2020 a Police dog handler responded to 111 calls that there was a man damaging property in the street with a machete. When he arrived, he heard the sound of "fearful" screams and crying. He then saw Mr Lal, who appeared to be trying to get through a smashed window at the front of the house from where those cries were coming.
As the officer approached Mr Lal he challenged him. Mr Lal turned and moved towards him. He was holding a machete above his head and was making slashing motions at the officer. The officer immediately started backing away, fearful of the threat he faced. He was controlling his dog with one hand and drew his pistol with the other while screaming instructions at Mr Lal to drop the weapon. Mr Lal was screaming "shoot me, shoot me".
The officer called for urgent assistance on the radio as he backed up for about 30 metres down the street, with Mr Lal continuing to swing the machete at him. Mr Lal then corralled him down a driveway, at the end of which he had nowhere to go and Mr Lal continued to approach with the machete.
The officer made the assessment that his dog would be ineffective and so fired two shots at Mr Lal who fell to the ground after the second shot. Other Police officers arrived very shortly afterwards and immediately provided first aid. Emergency Medical Technicians arrived and continued with first aid, however Mr Lal died at the scene.
Authority Chair, Judge Colin Doherty, said "at the time the officer fired each of the two shots Mr Lal was attacking him with a machete. The only possible alternative the officer had was to deploy his dog. The officer made the assessment that this was not the appropriate option in the circumstances. We agree with that decision and therefore find that his actions in firing two shots at Mr Lal in self defence were justified".
Fatal shooting of Hitesh Lal in Auckland justified (PDF 322 KB)