On the afternoon of 3 March 2022, Police attempted to arrest a man who was wanted for a series of burglaries. Police had spotted the man while he was driving, and followed him to a busy shopping centre in Whangārei, where he parked.
Police attempted to block the man’s escape; however, the man was able to drive out, crashing into several cars in the carpark in the process. As the man was attempting to drive away, an officer fired two shots from his pistol at the car tyres and two officers fired Tasers at the man. Despite significant damage to his car, the man was able to drive away and escape. He was arrested in Auckland a few days later.
The Authority concluded that the officer was not justified in firing the shots from his pistol. The risk of death or injury to members of the public, including women and children in the vicinity, far outweighed any risk the man posed.
The Authority also concluded that the officers were not justified in using their Tasers. Their use was against Police policy and made the incident more dangerous because of the risk of the man losing control of his car in the busy carpark.
The Authority was also critical that Police failed to investigate this matter adequately. Police found that firing the pistol was an “extremely risky course of action”, and firing the Tasers was contrary to policy. However, they took no action against the officers.
Authority Chairman Judge Colin Doherty said:
“Attempting to arrest a man in a busy shopping centre carpark with inadequate Police resources and planning, directly resulted in the inappropriate firing of the pistol and Tasers. The fact that no one was injured, or even killed, in this incident is remarkable and owed entirely to luck.
I am disappointed that despite the officers acting contrary to policy and placing members of the public at significant risk, Police have entirely excused their actions”.