The Independent Police Conduct Authority has found that two Police officers were justified in shooting at a man who held three civilian drivers at gunpoint and hijacked their cars while trying to avoid arrest. The man surrendered after the second officer’s shot hit and injured him.
The incident took place in Auckland on 15 July 2021, after Police received a report that a man had stolen a BMW SUV from a dealership. Police identified the man driving the BMW on the motorway and, after several minutes, the man realised Police were following him and fled at high speed.
The man drove through road spikes Police had set up and crashed the BMW into a traffic island at an intersection. The Authority found that, although the Police’s decision to use road spikes to stop the man was justified, their use at that location exposed other drivers to danger and was in breach of Police policy.
A Police officer carrying a Taser approached the crashed car. As the man exited, he pointed a pistol at the officer. The officer immediately fired the Taser, but this was ineffective. The Authority concluded that the officer was justified in firing the Taser in self-defence.
The man then hijacked two cars at the intersection in quick succession (he was unable to operate the first one). As he was forcing his way into the driver’s seat of the second car, the driver fell out onto the road as the car was rolling backwards. The officer, who had earlier fired the Taser, now fired a pistol at the man.
“We accept that the officer believed there was a genuine risk that the man would kill or seriously injure the driver. The officer’s use of force was necessary, proportionate, and reasonable in the circumstances as he believed them to be”, said Authority Chair, Judge Kenneth Johnston KC.
The officer’s shot missed the man, who fled in the car at speed. Within about a minute, the man crashed the car at another intersection and hijacked a vehicle by holding his pistol to the driver’s head. Another officer stopped his car in front of the vehicle, got out and fired one shot at the man through its windscreen. The shot hit the steering wheel and a fragment of the bullet struck the man’s abdomen.
The Authority determined that this officer was justified in shooting at the man to defend himself and the driver of the hijacked vehicle. The officer believed the man posed an imminent threat to him and the driver, and that no other, less forceful, tactical options to stop the man were available.
Police provided first aid to the man once he surrendered and took him to Auckland Hospital. The man was subsequently convicted of failing to stop, presenting a firearm at a person, reckless driving, aggravated injury, attempted unlawful taking and unlawfully taking motor vehicles.
Non-fatal shooting by Police in Auckland justified (PDF 873 KB)