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