Police shooting on Auckland motorway was justified - IPCA

2:29 pm on 4 May 2021

Two police officers were justified in firing shots at a wanted man in a high-speed pursuit on Auckland's northern motorway, the Independent Police Conduct Authority (IPCA) has found.

A police officer holds a firearm at the scene of the Hamilton shooting on Tuesday.

File photo. Photo: Claire Eastham-Farrelly/RNZ

A remand prisoner, who had escaped from Waitākere District Court two days earlier, suffered minor injuries after being shot in October 2018.

No one else was harmed during the incident.

The man, who was with another man sought for arrest, had fired a shotgun at police several times during the chase.

Two Armed Offenders Squad officers driving behind the fleeing car at high speed fired separate shots at the man.

The pursuit ended when the fleeing car ran out of petrol.

Judge Colin Doherty said the officers were part of a specialist team and understood the risks involved.

"There are substantial dangers involved in police firing shots on a busy motorway in the middle of the day," Doherty said.

"We would not usually consider such shooting to be justified, even by AOS officers. However, we are satisfied that shooting at the man was a proportionate and necessary response in this case," he said.

Acting Waitematā District Commander Mark Fergus said the officers were part of the police Special Tactics Group which received a higher level of training than general frontline officers.

"The IPCA found the armed offender was an immediate and deadly threat to our officers and the public and our AOS officers acted with urgency to resolve the high-risk situation and prevent any harm to our staff or the general public," Fergus said.

"I want to acknowledge and commend the actions of our staff who, despite fearing for their own lives, bravely responded in the face of very real danger to protect others and apprehend these dangerous offenders."

The authority found there had been police communication problems, but these did not significantly affect the police response.

Staff in the custody area at Waitākere District Court where the man escaped did not have proper training or supervision, the authority found.

Fergus said police had implemented the authority's recommendations and had introduced a new risk alert system at the court's custody unit.

The man who escaped custody was sentenced to 10 years and 10 months in prison for serious charges related to this incident and unrelated offences.

The other man involved was sentenced to seven years and six months imprisonment.