Police shooting 'justified'

Police were justified in shooting a Hawkes Bay man left paralysed as a result, an independent report has found.

The police officer who shot David Taite in 2011 in Central Hawkes Bay was lawfully justified given the dangerous circumstances he faced, an Independent Police Conduct Authority has found.

According to the report released today Taite was well known to police, 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 October 20, 2011, 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. He also spoke of killing himself and causing damage to other people's property. Police had also been advised that Taite had access to weapons.

Police had been searching for Taite since September 10 and since that time the Dannevirke and Central Hawkes Bay police had been authorised to carry firearms in response to his previous threats and confrontations with police.

On October 19, an Otane resident phoned police to report a sighting of Taite. Two police officers who were travelling from Hastings were advised of the call and as they turned off State Highway 2 into Higginson Street in Otane they passed a Nissan station wagon. Suspecting that Taite was in the car the officers followed the vehicle onto SH2 before signalling the Nissan to stop about 100 metres south of Higginson Street.

One of the officers spoke to the driver and the passenger of the car and asked for their details. 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 radioed to check the car occupants' details and confirm Taite's description.

Taite got out of the Nissan and with his right hand inside his sweatshirt holding what looked like a cylindrical object, walked towards the car. 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 Taite he was armed and that Taite should get on the ground.

Ignoring this instruction Taite moved towards the officer, who repeated the instruction to lie down. Taite ignored this and continued to advance towards the officer who then fired a single shot at Taite's chest. 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 Taite might attempt to escape using the police car, one of the officers ordered him to roll over and show his hands. 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 Taite in the face, stunning him. Both officers then handcuffed him. The officers assessed Taite's injuries as they waited for the ambulance to arrive.

Taite suffered a spinal injury from the gunshot and is permanently paralysed from his waist down.

In releasing today's report Independent Police Conduct Authority chairman Judge Sir David Carruthers said the officers involved did all they could to manage a 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."

- Hawke's Bay Today

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