6 Nov 2018

Officer screamed 'no, no, no' as gunman fired semi-automatic rifle

12:33 pm on 6 November 2018

The police officers shot at by a gunman in Waikato have described staring down the barrel of his semi-automatic rifle.

Rollie Heke appears for sentencing at the High Court in Wellington.

The Independent Police Conduct Authority heard from an officer who pursued Rollie Heke's car. Photo: RNZ / Anne Marie May

The police watchdog has found two officers were justified in shooting at Rollie Heke, who fired at them in Morrinsville.

The Independent Police Conduct Authority heard from a police officer who pursued Heke's speeding car.

He said he had to duck down below his dashboard and reverse rapidly to avoid being shot.

"Shortly after I started reversing I could hear the firearm being discharged at me, multiple shots one after the other … boom boom," he told the authority.

He remembered screaming "no, no, no!" when Heke aimed the weapon at him.

The shots continued as he accelerated down a farm driveway.

Two more officers arrived and exchanged fire with the 36-year-old using their Glock pistols.

One of them said that Heke initially held the rifle pointing downwards, but instantly raised it and pointed it at him.

"I thought we were going to die … we were confronting someone who was intent on killing us," he told the authority.

Their patrol car would not start and believing the shots had disabled the engine, they fled on foot to a nearby property and hid behind a tree.

"I was terrified he was going to come forward and kill us … if we couldn't get out of there, we were going to get shot," said the second officer.

No-one was injured in the incident.

Heke went on the run despite an extensive search, avoiding police for 12 days after the incident.

The IPCA ruled the officers' actions were reasonable given the immediate and serious threat he posed.

It assessed the risk to two of Heke's passengers to have been minimal, and considered the officers' actions were acceptable in light of the fast-paced nature of the incident and the extremely high level of danger they faced.

"Less forceful tactical options (such as Police dog, Taser, pepper spray or baton) were neither appropriate nor available in the circumstances," said the IPCA chair, Judge Colin Doherty. "Nor was it practical to ask [Heke] to surrender before the shooting began.

"Police complied with requirements regarding command and control in their handling of the incident."

Heke admitted using a firearm against law enforcement officers when he appeared in court in July.

Waikato district commander Superintendent Bruce Bird said the officers involved had acted courageously in exceptional circumstances.

"No one should ever be shot at or face a situation as dangerous as this as they carry out their job, it shows the lengths our brave officers go to in order to keep the community safe," he said.

"It is simply due to their quick thinking that this didn't result in serious injury or death.

"I would like to commend the bravery and courage of the three officers involved in this life threatening situation."

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