Police 'justified' in shooting man hijacking vehicles at gunpoint - IPCA


Police were justified in shooting a man who was holding people at gunpoint and attempting to hijack their vehicles.

The Independent Police Conduct Authority today released the report into the incident which took place in Auckland on 15 July 2021.

Police had received a report that the man had stolen a BMW from a dealership in Penrose and he was found driving it on a motorway.

After realising police were following him, he fled at high speed, driving through road spikes and crashing the vehicle into a traffic island at an intersection.

The scene where the fleeing driver crashed the BMW on 15 July 2021.
The scene where the fleeing driver crashed the BMW on 15 July 2021. Photo credit: RNZ

The IPCA said officers' use of road spikes was justified but the location exposed other drivers to danger and was a breach of police policy.

The report said a police officer carrying a Taser approached the man in the crashed car, only to have a gun pointed at him as the man got out.

The officer was justified in using his Taser on the man, the report said, but it did not stop him.

The man then hijacked two cars while at the intersection, forcing his way into the driver's seat of the second car, meaning the driver fell onto the road.

The police officer shot at the man. The bullet missed, and the man took off at speed, soon crashing at another intersection and hijacking another vehicle by holding a gun to the driver's head.

The report said another police officer shot again at the man through the windscreen, hitting him in the stomach.

IPCA chairman Judge Kenneth Johnston concluded both officers' decision to shoot at the man were justified.

The first officer believed "there was a genuine risk that the man would kill or seriously injure the driver. The officer's use of force was necessary, proportionate, and reasonable in the circumstances as he believed them to be," Johnston said.

The second shooting, which injured the man, was also justified to defend himself and the second driver.

"The officer believed the man posed an imminent threat to him and the driver, and that no other, less forceful, tactical options to stop the man were available.

"Police provided first aid to the man once he surrendered and took him to Auckland Hospital. The man was subsequently convicted of failing to stop, presenting a firearm at a person, reckless driving, aggravated injury, attempted unlawful taking and unlawfully taking motor vehicles."

Auckland City District Commander acting Superintendent Sunny Patel acknowledged the IPCA's findings.

"This was a complex and rapidly evolving incident, from which police have taken learnings.

"This type of response is always the last resort for our staff."