5 June 2014 -The officer involved in the non-fatal shooting of David Taite on 20 October 2011 just outside of Otane in Central Hawkes Bay was justified in shooting him, according to a report released today by the Independent Police Conduct Authority.
Mr Taite, who was well known to Police prior to this incident, had a significant and serious criminal history which included a conviction for the attempted murder of a Police officer and multiple family violence offences.
In the six weeks prior to the incident in the early hours of Thursday 20 October 2011, Mr Taite had made a number of threats that had been reported to Police. These included threatening to burn down the Dannevirke property owned by his landlord and threatening to kill his former partner and to shoot other people. Mr Taite also spoke of killing himself and causing damage to other people’s property. Police had also been advised that Mr Taite had access to weapons.
Police had been searching for Mr Taite since 10 September 2011 and since that time the Dannevirke and Central Hawkes Bay Police had been authorised to carry firearms in response to Mr Taite’s previous threats and confrontations with Police.
On 19 October 2011 an Otane resident phoned Police to report a sighting of Mr Taite. Two Police officers who were travelling from Hastings were advised of the call and as they turned off State Highway Two into Higginson Street in Otane they passed a Nissan station wagon. Suspecting that Mr Taite was in the car the officers did a U-turn and followed the car onto State Highway Two before signalling the Nissan to stop about 100 metres south of Higginson Street.
One of the officers went and spoke to the driver and the passenger of the car and asked for their details. Mr Taite, who was the passenger, gave a false name and became agitated.
Both officers then returned to the patrol car. They decided that one of the officers would stand behind the patrol car with a rifle and watch the passenger while the other officer radioed to check the car occupants’ details and confirm Mr Taite’s description.
At the same time Mr Taite got out of the Nissan and with his right hand inside his sweatshirt holding what looked like a cylindrical object, started walking towards the car. Mr Taite called out that he had a gun and was going to kill the officer. At this point the officer, who was on the radio, got out of the patrol car and drew his glock pistol, telling Mr Taite he was armed and that Mr Taite should get on the ground.
Ignoring this instruction Mr Taite moved towards the officer, who repeated the instruction for Mr Taite to lie down. Mr Taite ignored this and continued to advance towards the officer who then fired a single shot at Mr Taite’s chest. Mr Taite fell to the ground and continued to yell abuse at the officers. He then started crawling towards the open driver’s side door of the patrol car where the keys were in the ignition and the car was running.
Concerned that Mr Taite might attempt to escape using the Police car, one of the officers ordered Mr Taite to roll over and show his hands. Mr Taite then put his hand inside his trousers and replied that he had a grenade and was going to blow everyone up. Concerned about this new threat and the safety of those around him, the officer struck Mr Taite in the face, stunning him. Both officers then handcuffed him. The officers assessed Mr Taite’s injuries as they waited for the ambulance to arrive.
Mr Taite suffered injury to his spine as a result of the gunshot and is permanently paralysed from his waist down.
In releasing today’s report Independent Police Conduct Authority Chair, Judge Sir David Carruthers said the officers involved did all they could to manage a very difficult situation.
“Both officers were justified in arming themselves and in stopping the Nissan car. Likewise the officer who shot and kicked Mr Taite was lawfully justified in doing so given the circumstances he was faced with.”
“The officers acted with a high degree of professionalism when planning for possible contact with Mr Taite, and when confronted with what they believed to be a very dangerous situation,” Sir David said.
Media contact: Warren Young 021 557 783