Police shooting of Paeroa man ‘justified’
‘‘I commend our staff for the professionalism they have demonstrated throughout.’’
The shooting of a Paeroa man who wielded a machete and sickle at responding police officers was justified, an independent report has found.
Michael Taylor, 57, was shot dead by officers responding to a domestic incident near Paeroa on 10 June, 2016.
That morning Taylor and his partner Natalie Avery had argued.
She dialled 111 to report Taylor had thrown a coffee mug at her neck during the exchange, the Independent Police Conduct Authority report states.
En-route from Paeroa police station, responding officers got word that Taylor was carrying a machete.
One armed himself with a Taser, and the other donned a glock pistol. "These two officers were in the first police car to arrive at the property at about 8.30am. They saw Mr Taylor standing in a paddock about 10-15 metres away, holding a machete in one hand and a sickle in the other."
Taylor began striding towards the patrol car. He hurled one weapon at the front passenger door.
While shouting for Taylor to drop his weapons, the officer in the front passenger seat drew his pistol and aimed it through the window.
"Taylor continued advancing and then swung his right arm back, preparing to strike the front passenger window with the weapon he was still holding.’’
Fearing for his life, the officer fired four shots at Taylor - three of which struck him. Taylor died at the scene from gunshot wounds to his chest and abdomen. The whole incident unfolded in about 15-20 seconds.
"The officer was justified in firing the shots at Mr Taylor from inside the police car in defence of himself, because he believed on reasonable grounds that Mr Taylor was about to kill or seriously injure him," authority Judge Colin Doherty said.
"The threat from Mr Taylor was imminent, the officer could not escape and it was not practi- cal or realistic for him to use a lower level of force."
Waikato district commander, Superintendent Bruce Bird, said the shooting had been "tough, traumatic and challenging" for all of those involved. "I acknowledge Mr Taylor’s family and extend our deepest sympathies to them. The incident was also challenging for our staff – not only those that were involved on the day but also our investigators and the staff in the wider Paeroa community. I commend our staff for the professionalism they have demonstrated throughout."
The authority also found the initial police response was appropriate, as was the medical assistance given to Taylor.