7 Aug 2014

IPCA clears officer over fatal shooting

6:54 pm on 7 August 2014

The Independent Police Conduct Authority (IPCA) has found a Taranaki police officer was justified in shooting a man who kidnapped and held a woman hostage for 12 hours.

On 15 July 2011, Antony Ratahi kidnapped his former partner in Opunake threatening everyone inside the Headlands Hotel with an air pistol.

After 12 hours of negotiations police convinced Mr Ratahi to come outside and a police dog took hold of his leg.

Mr Ratahi then dragged the dog back inside the hotel and police followed him and ordered him to surrender.

Instead, Mr Ratahi reached into his pocket and the officer thought he was reaching for a gun and shot him in the head, killing him.

The IPCA said the officer was faced with an extremely dangerous situation and his own life was at risk.

Authority chairperson, Sir David Carruthers, said the officer believed Mr Ratahi posed an immediate threat to his hostage and other officers.

Mr Ratahi had previously served three months in prison for assaulting his former partner. A protection order was in place for him and he was banned from going to Opunake where his former partner lived.

Acting central district commander, superintendent Sue Schawlager, said no officer wants to use lethal force but it is sometimes unavoidable.

She said all police staff involved were saddened that the incident had ended in tragedy but that there had been no alternative.

In the days leading up to the kidnapping, Mr Ratahi had tried to acquire a gun but could only get an air pistol.