Shoot­ing of ma­chete-wielder by po­lice was law­ful, author­ity rules

The New Zealand Herald - - NEWS -

Melissa Nightin­gale

The of­fi­cer who shot and killed a ma­chete-wield­ing man in Porirua last year only had the gun be­cause there was a short­age of Tasers at the time.

Of­fi­cer E, a dog han­dler with 12 years’ ex­pe­ri­ence, had to make a split-sec­ond de­ci­sion to shoot when 44-year-old Christo­pher Brown was less than a me­tre from him with the raised ma­chete.

The In­de­pen­dent Po­lice Con­duct Author­ity re­leased a re­port yes­ter­day clear­ing po­lice of wrong­do­ing over the Fe­bru­ary 26 shoot­ing.

Brown had vi­o­lently as­saulted his part­ner and dam­aged her Waikanae home be­fore driv­ing away from the prop­erty armed with the ma­chete and a slug gun.

Po­lice found and trapped Brown in the Porirua sub­urb of Mana, sur­round­ing his car with po­lice ve­hi­cles so he could not drive away.

But within five sec­onds of Brown get­ting out of his car, Of­fi­cer E had to de­cide to shoot him or be hit with the ma­chete.

Brown wouldn’t re­spond to the of­fi­cer’s shouted in­struc­tions to drop the ma­chete, but raised it and started ad­vanc­ing.

“It was like he was a man on a mis­sion,” Of­fi­cer E said. Of­fi­cer E

Of­fi­cer E yelled: “Stop, armed . . .” but did not fin­ish the in­struc­tion be­fore re­al­is­ing Brown was close enough to hit him with the ma­chete.

He fired once at Brown through a gap be­tween the wind­screen of his ve­hi­cle and the open driver’s door. He told the author­ity he fired to “pro­tect my­self”.

The bul­let hit Brown’s right shoul­der. The author­ity found of­fi­cers did all they could to save Brown, but he died on the way to hos­pi­tal.

Its re­port re­vealed the of­fi­cer wasn’t car­ry­ing a Taser be­cause there weren’t enough in the Welling­ton district for dog han­dlers to have one.

But the author­ity be­lieved even if Of­fi­cer E had had a Taser, it wouldn’t have been enough to stop Brown.

“Mr Brown pre­sented an im­me­di­ate threat of death or se­ri­ous in­jury to Of­fi­cer E. There was too great a risk that a Taser would have failed to in­ca­pac­i­tate Mr Brown for it to be a rea­son­able tac­ti­cal op­tion in these cir­cum­stances.”

Of­fi­cer E didn’t be­lieve pep­per spray or a ba­ton would have been enough pro­tec­tion against the ma­chete.

He also did not want to re­treat as he was un­aware of a sup­port­ing of­fi­cer’s po­si­tion and didn’t want him to be ex­posed to the same threat.

Welling­ton now has enough Tasers and po­lice pol­icy has changed so dog han­dlers must have ac­cess.

The author­ity con­cluded the po­lice re­sponse was ap­pro­pri­ate and the of­fi­cer’s ac­tions in fir­ing his weapon were “law­ful and pro­por­tion­ate”.

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