14 Jul 2020

Steven Wallace case: 'It would have been difficult to cordon and contain him'

6:42 pm on 14 July 2020

Steven Wallace, shot dead by police in 2000, was acting erratically and it would have been difficult for three officers to contain him, an officer who was first on the scene says.

Steven Wallace.

Steven Wallace was shot by police in 2000. Photo: Supplied

In April 2000, Steven Wallace was shot dead by Senior Constable Keith Abbott, who was in 2002 acquitted of murder after the Wallace family took a private prosecution against him.

Wallace had walked down Waitara's main street using a golf club to smash shop windows, a taxi and then a patrol car with officers inside.

The Wallace family believes Steven Wallace was deprived of the right to life and have taken a civil case against the police.

It is being heard in the High Court at Wellington.

Jason Dombroski, now a detective sergeant, was one of the first at the scene and told the court Wallace was in a volatile state and officers were thinking fast on their feet.

"With the three officers we had it would have been difficult to cordon and contain him without approaching him whilst also keeping any members of the public out of the area," he said.

Dombroski said there was no time to construct a proper plan.

"It is good practice to plan your options if you have time, however this was an emergency situation and many of the options were off the table due to Mr Wallace's behaviour," he said.

Earlier in court today, a former senior police officer turned private investigator slammed the actions of officers during the fatal shooting.

Peter Hikaka said the officers created the confrontation by going back to the station to arm themselves.

"They didn't demonstrate that they believed it urgent but then they draw firearms - so it's sort of contrary really - because they go to the most extreme methods of dealing with Mr Wallace," he said.

Hikaka said the officers could have cordoned and contained.

He disagreed with many findings in subsequent reports and labelled the police actions as "extreme".

The case before Justice Ellis is set down for a week.