Lawsuit over police shooting to go ahead

  • 27/06/2016
Steven Wallace
Steven Wallace

Police have failed in a bid to have a lawsuit over the fatal shooting of a man by an officer thrown out.

Steven Wallace, 23, was shot dead by Senior Constable Keith Abbott during a window-smashing rampage in Waitara, in which he attacked store windows, an occupied taxi and a police car with a baseball bat and golf club.

Mr Abbott was acquitted of murder following a private prosecution by Mr Wallace's family and an Independent Police Conduct Authority investigation found the killing was justified.

But Mr Wallace's family claim the death was not properly investigated and are now taking the police to court asking for $200,000 in compensation for a breach of rights.

A police bid to have the case thrown out entirely has now been rejected by Justice Brendan Brown at the High Court at New Plymouth.

Police argued the errors claimed in the case were minor and the matter had already been reviewed by the police, the IPCA, the courts and a coroner.

But Justice Brown said while it was clear there had been significant investigation into the death, it did not meet the threshold to be thrown out.

However, he said the decision to not drop the case did not reflect there were good prospects for a chance of success.

The case would have to proceed quickly, he said.

"Constable Abbott must be free to get on with his life," he said.

The court did however, rule that Mr Wallace's family had to make a security deposit of $20,000 in case costs are later awarded.