21 Jun 2017

Fatal shooting of Hamilton man was justified - IPCA

4:55 pm on 21 June 2017

A Hamilton man killed by police during a raid in July tried to blast an officer with a shotgun before police fired eight shots at him, a watchdog's report says.

The area where a man was shot dead by police has been cordoned off.

The area where a man was shot dead by police has been cordoned off. Photo: RNZ/ Cole Eastham-Farrelly

The Independent Police Conduct Authority (IPCA) ruled today the shooting was justified.

Nick Marshall died on 12 July 2016 while members of the Waikato Armed Offenders Squad carried out a search warrant at a warehouse in Grasslands Place.

Police believed he was involved in manufacturing firearms and supplying methamphetamine. Mr Marshall and his partner were living in the warehouse at the time.

According to the IPCA's report, Mr Marshall ignored instructions to get on the ground when police entered the warehouse, running to the rear of the warehouse and picking up a pump action shotgun from a workbench.

The IPCA said Mr Marshall pointed the shotgun at an officer and squeezed the trigger, but the shotgun failed to fire. He then racked the chamber, causing a shell to fall to the floor.

Ignoring warnings to drop the gun, Mr Marshall attempted to load another round.

The officer fired five shots at Mr Marshall, while a second officer arrived and fired three more shots.

First aid was carried out on Mr Marshall, but he died at the scene.

A post mortem found that Mr Marshall received five gunshot wounds - three to the left side of his body and two gunshot wounds were towards his upper back.

IPCA chair Judge Sir David Carruthers said other tactical options were not viable or appropriate.

"As soon as officers entered the warehouse, Mr Marshall confronted them. He presented a very real risk of death or serious bodily harm to police and needed to be urgently stopped. The officers who shot at Mr Marshall were justified in doing so."

The IPCA said at the time the officers fired, Mr Marshall was pointing his shotgun at them and they feared for their lives.

A post mortem found that Mr Marshall received five gunshot wounds; three to the left side of his body and two towards his upper back.

Waikato District Commander Superintendent Bruce Bird said staff had had little choice but to shoot Mr Marshall.

"As the Authority noted, staff were presented with a very real risk of death or serious harm by Mr Marshall who needed to be urgently stopped.

"While this was a tragic end that nobody would have wanted, I commend the officers who responded and who acted with professionalism and considerable courage.

"This was a highly-charged and dangerous situation and I am grateful that there were no further injuries or yet more tragedy."

Victim's father calls for body cameras on officers

The victim's father, Nelson Marshall, said it is probable police were justified in shooting once his son had picked up a shotgun.

"But we think it is not justifiable that they should put him in a situation where he felt the only way out was to pick up a gun."

"Did they need to send ten armed officers in at six o'clock at night, when he had had the workshop open for most of the afternoon to attack him when it is only him and his girlfriend there."

Nelson Marshall said his son reacted the way he did because he thought the Mongrel Mob, who he had had problems with in the past, had come to attack him.

"I think it was a pretty dumb time of the day to attack the workshop," he said.

Nelson Marshall is calling for all front line officers to wear body-cameras.

He said cameras would provide an accurate account of incidents such as his son's shooting.

"So that we can see and they can see and anybody else can see what exactly happened.

"At the moment it is like the old story about three sides to every story. You have got theirs, yours and the truth. Which one is right?"

Police have said they have no plans for the immediate introduction of body cameras.

In a statement they said that while the technology was readily available, if on-body cameras were to be considered, appropriate storage, security and management of any footage captured, which would be significant in volume, would all need to be considered.

They said there were also legal and privacy considerations.

Nelson Marshall is awaiting an investigation by the Coroner before deciding whether to take any further steps.