The Independent Police Conduct Authority has found that a Police officer was justified in shooting a man who tried to stab him with a knife in Dacre, a rural area near Invercargill, on 19 March 2022.
Police had information that the man had seriously assaulted his ex-partner. They went to the man’s rural house to search for the ex-partner. The man was aggressive and fired a home-made gun inside the house. He then escaped in his car, smashing into a Police car and driving dangerously onto State Highway 1.
Due to frontal damage, the car came to a halt on State Highway 1 by Dacre Hall, and the man got out onto the road holding the gun and a knife. Members of the public stopped their cars and officers arrived and started talking to the man. Another Police car arrived, and the man ran towards the public still holding the gun and the knife. An officer attempted to fire a sponge round weapon at the man, but the officer’s weapon did not fire. The man tried to get into a milk tanker using his gun to smash the window, breaking the gun, then tried getting into a nearby car. The same officer challenged the man to stop, but the man then ran at the officer swinging his knife. The officer tried firing the sponge round weapon but again it did not fire. The officer stepped back and drew his pistol. The man continued to rush forward with the knife trying to grab the officer’s pistol. The officer fired one shot and hit the man in the chest. The man later had surgery and recovered.
The Authority found the officer was justified, in defence of himself and the occupants of the stopped vehicles, in both attempting to fire the sponge round weapon and shooting the man.
“Verbal instructions and communication, and the attempted use of the sponge round weapon, had failed to stop the man. The officer faced serious consequences for his safety and responded appropriately and bravely to defend himself and members of the public. I commend him for his actions,” said Authority Chair, Judge Kenneth Johnston KC.
The man’s ex-partner was later found unharmed. The sponge round weapon was checked and found to be operational.
The Authority completed its investigation into this incident in November 2022 but delayed the release of its public report until after the conclusion of the man’s related court proceedings in April 2023.