29 Mar 2011

Shooting to wound not that simple - former AOS boss

7:30 pm on 29 March 2011

A former leader of the Armed Offenders Squad says shooting to wound is not as simple as it sounds.

Lachan Kelly-Tumarae, 19, died early on Monday after being shot by police near Fernhill, west of Hastings.

Superintendent Sam Hoyle says a night shift patrol was working in Wordsworth Crescent in Maraenui near Napier just after 1.30am when it noticed a man acting suspiciously near a parked vehicle.

Police say the officers approached Mr Kelly-Tumarae, but retreated when he pointed a gun at them.

Several police cars then followed his blue Nissan stationwagon to Fernhill where he stopped suddenly, got out of the vehicle, and again pointed the gun at officers.

It remains unclear who fired first, although police say Mr Kelly-Tumarae was carrying a gun and a shot was fired from it.

His uncle, James Tumarae, wants to know why police did not use a taser instead.

Taser the preferred option

A former head of the Wellington Armed Offenders Squad, Murray Forbes, says officers have to make a quick assessment of such situations, taking into account their own safety and that of the public.

Mr Forbes says though the policy is to shoot to wound there is always a risk when deciding to pull the trigger - and he believes using a taser is the best option if the officer is close enough.

No officer ever wants to be responsible for someone's death, he says.

Using a taser is always the best option if an officer is close enough, even when an offender has a gun, he says.

The Police Association is confident officers took the only action available to them. President Greg O'Connor is warning people to wait for the outcome of an investigation that is under way before blaming police.

Several investigations are under way, including a homicide investigation and an inquiry by the Independent Police Conduct Authority.

Decision-making process questioned

A Hawke's Bay community leader says more information is needed about the decision-making process armed police go through before deciding to shoot someone.

Des Ratima says there seems to be a lot of uncertainty about the circumstances and he wants to know whether it was really necessary for the police to shoot.

"Somebody has to make the decision that 'I now need to squeeze the trigger'. How does it lead to that decision being made? What's in their training that allows them to be in that position that says 'I now need to squeeze that trigger'?"

Mr Ratima says he is not trying to lay blame, but wants clarification of the events that led to Mr Kelly-Tumarae's death.