Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The police are officially careless with guns

Two years ago, the Police shot and killed an innocent bystander, Halatau Naitoko, while pursuing an armed offender. Today, the Coroner has released his findings into the death. While he has found that the death was accidental, he has harshly criticised the police for their lack of care and concern for public safety when using firearms:

[Coroner Gordon] Matenga said he was greatly concerned about the fact the officers had missed their intended target with four shots "from a reasonably close range of between 7 and 9 metres".

Combined with the failure of one officer, "to appreciate what was within the line of fire indicates to me a need for further training and an acknowledgement by AOS that experience matters".


Matenga also criticised one officer - part of the chasing group of officers, for stopping and exiting his vehicle when the chase came to an end, drawing his weapon and firing it in the direction of a fleeing McDonald.

"This was a gross infraction of the Police Instructions on Firearms, appears to have been incredibly dangerous and is a matter I will refer to the IPCA [Independent Police Conduct Authority] to deal with," he said.

Matenga is recommending changes in procedure and better training to prevent this sort of accident from happening again. Meanwhile, since Naitoko's death, firearms have become more available to police - which means more guns in less experienced hands, exactly what the Coroner is warning against.