Why didn't they taser me? - paralysed crim

Waipukurau resident David Taite says he doesn't believe police were justified in shooting him....
Waipukurau resident David Taite says he doesn't believe police were justified in shooting him. Photo NZ Herald/Nicki Harper
David Taite still does not accept he should have been shot by police.

Living in Waipukurau since the beginning of the year Taite, 51, is paralysed from the waist down as a result of his injuries, which followed an incident near the Central Hawke's Bay township of Otane in October 2011.

The Independent Police Conduct Authority has found the police officer who shot Taite was lawfully justified given the dangerous circumstances he faced.

In a report released yesterday, the authority said 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 October 20, 2011, Taite had made a number of threats that had been reported to police.

These included threatening to burn down his landlord's Dannevirke property and threatening to kill his ex-partner and to shoot other people.

He also spoke of killing himself and damaging 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 Hawke's Bay police had been authorised to carry firearms in response to his previous threats to police.

On October 19, an Otane resident phoned police to report seeing Taite.

Two police officers were advised of the call and they passed a Nissan station wagon as they turned off State Highway 2 into Higginson St in Otane.

Suspecting that Taite was in the car the officers followed the vehicle onto SH2 before signalling the Nissan to stop about 100m south of Higginson St.

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 returned to the patrol car.

They decided one of them 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 left 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. The officer, who was on the radio, got out of the patrol car and drew his Glock pistol, telling Taite he was armed and 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 try 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 and Taite was then handcuffed.

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 November last year he was convicted of threatening to kill the police officers, but he still takes issue with the police version of events.

"I want to fight it," he said from his home in Waipukurau yesterday. "I might have been up to a bit of mischief but I did not deserve to be shot - I wasn't even pointing a gun - why couldn't they have Tasered me?"

He said despite suffering a lot of pain every day, he is happy to be alive.

"I have given myself to the Lord - he does lots of talking for me now."

In releasing yesterday'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 Mr Taite was lawfully justified in doing so given the circumstances he was faced with."

- Nicki Harper of Hawke's Bay Today

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