Myers Park fatal police shooting justified - IPCA

11:55 am on 1 September 2016

Police were justified in fatally shooting an unarmed man in Auckland's Myers Park last year but made mistakes that contributed to the confrontation, the police watchdog says.

Police released an image of David Cerven, 21, on Saturday, saying they wanted to locate him in relation to three armed robberies on the North Shore.

Police officers genuinely believed David Cerven had a gun and was about to use it, the IPCA says. Photo: NZ POLICE

David Cerven, 21, who was being sought in relation to three robberies, was killed in the Auckland CBD park in August 2015.

Police said at the time he claimed to be armed and, after 20 minutes of negotiating, he was fatally shot.

It was later revealed by Coroner Katharine Greig - after police refused to confirm whether Mr Cerven had a weapon - that he had been unarmed.

Ms Greig said police had advised her about the content and nature of the communication they had had with Mr Cerven in the lead-up to the shooting, suggesting he wanted to die and intended to make it happen.

In a report released today, the Independent Police Conduct Authority (IPCA) found that officers believed Mr Cerven when he said he was armed, and his movements led them to think he was about to shoot.

"CCTV footage shows Mr Cerven putting his right hand into his right-hand pocket, taking his hand out of his pocket and then appearing to clasp both hands together as if to make it look like he had a firearm in his hands," the report said.

"Due to the darkness and distance, it is not possible to tell with any certainty ... whether Mr Cerven is holding something in his hands."

After earlier complying with police orders, at that point Mr Cerven ignored orders to get down on the ground, the report said.

"In the circumstances as Officers E and F believed them to be, they were justified in shooting Mr Cerven," the report said.

However, the IPCA also found that officers' actions escalated the situation early on and were what prompted Mr Cerven's response to them.

Officers E and F chose to immediately approach and challenge Mr Cerven, the report said.

"There were other options that Officers E and F should have considered and their actions precipitated Mr Cerven's response."

Those options included negotiating with Mr Cerven or allowing other officers who were in the park to carry on negotiating until the park could be properly cordoned off.

They also did not radio the police dispatcher to let everybody know of their intentions to approach him.

"Their failure to do so meant that neither the dispatcher ... nor the four officers present in the park were aware of Officer E and F's plan," the report said.

"As the other officers were unaware of Officer E and F's plan, they had limited time to retreat and take cover."

Nor did the officers find out whether the Armed Offenders Squad had been called, the report said.

Police and members of the public at Myers Park, where David Cerven was shot and killed by police on Sunday.

Police attend a blessing at Myers Park two days after officers fatally shot Mr Cerven. Photo: RNZ / Mohamed Hassan

Friends feared David Cerven intended to die

Mr Cerven had confessed to friends on the day of the shooting that he had robbed a liquor store and was going to give himself up to police, the IPCA found.

He was upset and crying, and ran off late in the afternoon.

The report detailed his friends' frantic attempts to find him, calling him repeatedly and texting him 66 times.

He finally answered a call just before 7pm - less than an hour before he died.

"[At] this point Mr Cerven was very upset and fluctuating between crying and laughing," the report said.

"He said that he was in church and had made a confession. Mr Cerven told Ms X [his friend] not to worry and that he would go to heaven."

Another friend told police after the shooting that she had worried that Mr Cerven might try to get officers to kill him, the report said.