Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: A Weird Day in the Hood

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  • Kyle Matthews,

    why did the police not take down the offender earlier when they had the chance?

    They won't shoot an armed offender just because they have a gun. They'll only do it once he presents the weapon and is looking likely to use it on someone. Maybe this is the first time he actually pointed the gun at someone and looked likely to use it.

    Having fired a few rounds from a police-esque Glock 9mm (at a pistol club as part of a stag do... long story), I have absolutely no surprise that the police failed to hit the suspect standing on an erratically moving flatbed truck.

    AOS carry Glocks, but they'd have been using their Bushmaster rifles for this I'd imagine. They'd only use their Glocks for an incident which made the rifles impractical. The rifles are more accurate, and more likely to achieve the desired result.

    The racial conspiracies that have floated around I find pretty rude to be honest. This is the first innocent bystander killed by the NZ police, is it not just possible that it's chance that he happens to not be white? It's not like the Northwestern motorway is an exclusively whites only area.

    The unit commander would have given the order to shoot the offender, I'm dubious that the thought going through his head at the time was "it's ok, there's only a brown kid 10 metres behind him".

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    As a matter of interest, I copied my comments above to Poneke and 30 minutes later I was locked - permanently, I hope - out of his blog.

    I followed the link and it required login. So maybe he's done it universally? Or some accident has happened.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • Tomorrowpeople,

    Ok - I thought this guy had fired randomly when the police had cornered him and asked him to drop his gun several times (before the motorway ordeal).

    The Craps tables at the B… • Since Nov 2006 • 188 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    They won't shoot an armed offender just because they have a gun. They'll only do it once he presents the weapon and is looking likely to use it on someone. Maybe this is the first time he actually pointed the gun at someone and looked likely to use it.

    It seems he had discharged his rifle repeatedly in the course of the chase. The cops may have been reluctant to fire shots at a fast-moving car on the public road.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22848 posts Report Reply

  • James Green,

    On a rather less grave point

    The driver kept not moving up as space cleared in front

    I don't know how extreme this case was, but when stuck in a long queue of traffic, everyone keeping their motor running to creep forward another couple of metres now and then is a pretty colossal waste of gaskranken. Also, it makes life less stinky for the bugger behind.

    On the merits of this, I've now become a bit of a slow creeper.

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 703 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole,

    The question really seems to be about a "clear line of fire" type decision. The aerial photos look like the AOS members shot at the truck with the van directly on the other side - questions about movement of the different vehicles etc make it all much more difficult than that static post-event photo though.

    This is where it all gets very tricky. Any semi-competent hunter, or indeed anyone who's had any introduction to basic firearms safety, knows that you should always know what's beyond the target before you fire. It's accepted that the Police will breach that most basic of rules - "Never point a loaded firearm at another person" - but that's their job. The other cardinal rules are fully applicable, if not more so because of the frequently crowded areas in which they operate. In this case, it looks like at least one of the officers involved wasn't totally conversant with the "beyond his target" part of the equation. Especially when shooting at someone on a moving vehicle, this shouldn't be an afterthought.

    The way it's shaping up, the odds just all came together wrong. The moving vehicle suddenly stopped moving just as the cops were firing, and just clear of the innocent bystander. Lo, we have a shot that completely missed, hit the innocent bystander in the chest, and as is the expected result when the police shoot someone in a vital part of the body, he promptly expired. It sucks, but it's hardly a conspiracy by the cops to whack themselves a PI boy to up their locker room cred.

    Personally, I will be disappointed if any action results beyond internal disciplinary action. Contingent, of course, on the officer having not been so stupid as to not even consider what lay beyond the target. In that case, prosecution for careless use of a firearm would be entirely appropriate. Failing that, being dropped from the AOS and possibly subject to a letter of censure would be sufficient. His conscience is going to be a far worse punishment than anything society can offer.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    Alcohol might still account for many more incidents of violence, but it's P that produces the real showstoppers.

    I guess the difference being that someone having a P-fueled psychotic break is not 'impaired', indeed they are somewhat 'enhanced', which makes crazy twice as bad. And <anecdotal evidence warning>, my experience is that P only appeals to people who are already a bit nuts.

    I don't regard it as a defence, and I do not think the courts should either.

    As with alcohol.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • Michael,

    Has something interesting happened with Poneke? I apparently need to log in to view it now.

    Hokitika • Since Nov 2006 • 3 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    When McDonald met his lawyer, you can imagine the conversation was something like:
    Crim: "I'm fucked, aren't I bro, it's jail forever for this?
    Brief: "Well... Generally, the best defence in this case is that the P made me do it"
    Crim: "Eh, true. I was gonna buy some if the holdup had gone off ok"

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • Naly D,

    There's no need to be a smartarse about it.

    Apologies, I didn't mean to offend you.

    Wellington • Since Sep 2008 • 307 posts Report Reply

  • Glenn Pearce,

    why did the police not take down the offender earlier when they had the chance?

    There was one "eye witness" report in the paper of the offender barrelling through a roadblock while 2 police officers "chatted".

    Sort of Dukes of Hazard / Gumball Rallyesque was the picture painted.

    I sincerely hope that wasn't the case

    Auckland • Since Feb 2007 • 504 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole,

    Ok - I thought this guy had fired randomly when the police had cornered him and asked him to drop his gun several times (before the motorway ordeal).

    Possibly. However, it may not have been the AOS chasing him at that point. The AOS don't just miraculously appear when needed, they're officers with other duties who have to go to their central staging point (I believe Auckland AOS is based entirely out of Auckland Central), kit up, and then respond. That this happened during a working day just meant that a greater number of officers were going to be at work, probably quite a few of them in Central itself, and thus in a good position to respond. Officers with lesser training may have been far less keen to take on someone with a rifle, especially since they quite probably had only a Glock.

    Also, was he actually firing at the police prior to the motorway incident? Firearm presented, certainly, but the impression I've taken from the media coverage is that most of the shots were fired during events on the motorway.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    I followed the link and it required login. So maybe he's done it universally? Or some accident has happened.

    I've been having intermittent problems posting comments on a number of Word Press based blogs over the last couple of weeks. So, I doubt it's about you Peter.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    emergency services sometime need to drive really, really fast.

    30km/h over the limit for ambulances dealing with a life-threatening callout. less for fire engines - 75km/h in a 50 limit or 105 km/h on the highway.

    Not really very fast at all.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • James Liddell,

    But I'm so damn sick of listening to O'Connor going off like an unmedicated Garth McVicar.

    I've somehow conditioned myself to tune out O'Connor and McVicar. (It really lowers the blood pressure.)

    But, and this is what really annoys me, why do journalists have to seek comment from Mike Sabin every bloody time P is mentioned? Are they getting kickbacks for promoting his business?

    Wellington • Since Jul 2007 • 102 posts Report Reply

  • Morgan Nichol,

    [Re: P] I don't regard it as a defence, and I do not think the courts should either.

    Quite right, the thing about losing your shit after taking P is that first you have to take P.

    I think the penalties should be higher, if anything.

    (Which might only mean mandatory drug counselling. But might also mean more time inside. Or urine/blood tests for the duration of any probationary period.)

    Russell, have you stopped proof-reading?

    This is the least important part of any post, IMHO.

    Russell generally uses the LazyWeb proof-reading services of his readers, instead of passive-aggressive snarking in the comments, just email him with whatever errors you spot. (Or STFU.)

    He'll fix them, he'll thank you. Everyone wins.

    It's hard enough to hit a stationary paper target from 10 metres. Seriously.

    I bet that given a few more visits to the range you'd be hitting that target with every single shot. And a few more still and you'd have tidy little shot groupings.

    Your point that paper targets don't move or shoot back isn't lost on me,but if I can hit a running target through trees with a piece-of-shit rented paintball gun I'd never even held before 5 minutes ago, a trained experienced marksman should be able to hit ANYTHING you ask him to.

    Training is the difference.

    Our police have a long and storied history of being pretty useless shots with bad judgement. Give them more ammunition (I heard, once upon a time, that the average officer gets about 100 shots a year), and more range time, and don't let the ones that aren't very good shots use the pistols. Ever.

    *AND* lets give them more less lethal options - bean bag guns, rubber slugs, pepper balls, bear spray. All of that good stuff that knocks the shit out of people, but is more likely to knock people out than kill them.

    It seems he had discharged his rifle repeatedly in the course of the chase. The cops may have been reluctant to fire shots at a fast-moving car on the public road.

    Which would seem the right decision, a sawn-off .22 (if reports are correct) would have to be pretty low on the firearms power scale - probably less dangerous than a decent air rifle. A careening driverless car on the other hand. Eesh.

    The whole thing... Just such a disaster. I hope the book they throw at this arsehole is a very heavy one.

    Auckland CBD • Since Nov 2006 • 314 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    In this case, it looks like at least one of the officers involved wasn't totally conversant with the "beyond his target" part of the equation. Especially when shooting at someone on a moving vehicle, this shouldn't be an afterthought.

    How much would it change things if the police shooter had received the order to take down the fugitive immediately? Is it plausible that's what happened?

    I/S is demanding a prosecution of the officer who fired, but if he was acting on an express order, who's culpable?

    One of the Kiwiblog regulars, Gooner, is an ex-cop and he has an interesting post on the issue.

    It seems obvious that a clear picture of events needs to be established by the investigations before anybody talks about a prosecution.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22848 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    I've somehow conditioned myself to tune out O'Connor and McVicar.

    Very smart, the problem is that Police officers actually need serious, reality-based advocacy and O'Connor isn't bringing the A-game, IMO.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole,

    I don't regard it as a defence, and I do not think the courts should either.

    Ask Antonie "Samurai Sword" Dixon how sympathetic the courts are to a "The upside-down b made me do it, y'ronner" defence. According to Granny he's now appealing for a third trial for the murders. I mean, seriously, how many times must a jury be confronted by the same nutjob?

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Apologies, I didn't mean to offend you.

    Oh, it takes a lot more than that to actually offend me ;-)

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22848 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    It seems obvious that a clear picture of events needs to be established by the investigations before anybody talks about a prosecution.

    What! A careful consideration of evidence before coming to a conclusion? Are you mad!

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    I find it hard to blame the police, although an investigation is always worthwhile when there is a killing, just to clarify procedures and lay future ground rules, and indicate flaws in training. But until I get a P-crazed gunman at the end of a breakneck car chase shooting wildly at me and everyone else, I won't really feel myself to be a qualified judge of other people's actions. What happened is extremely lamentable, but it could well have been worse, there could easily have been more deaths from the car chase alone, let alone the shootout. When someone is acting as crazy as this guy was, you have to take calculated risks, because not taking them is also taking a calculated risk. And there isn't much time for calculation.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • Evan Yates,

    I have no insider knowledge but I tend to agree with a few of the other posters. The AOS does not normally "shoot first, ask questions later".

    It seems they only shot at the guy when he jumped on the back of the (slow moving, nearly stationary) truck and pushed his gun through the rear cab window.
    My take is that he then represented a target with a reasonable chance of a successful hit exhibiting a credible and immediate deadly threat to the truck driver.
    Somewhere between that point and the final resolution, something has gone horribly wrong and an innocent bystander is left dead.
    Ricochet? Direct Miss? Who the hell knows? And we probably won't know until the forensic investigation is completed...

    All we can do now is wait (and try to imagine the grief that the Naitoko family are experiencing).

    Hamiltron, Te Ika-a-Māui • Since Nov 2006 • 197 posts Report Reply

  • Morgan Nichol,

    I/S is demanding a prosecution of the officer who fired, but if he was acting on an express order, who's culpable?

    The officer who fired still is.

    But his commanding officer has to be open for action as well (even if it's limited to an employment matter).

    And I think I/S is probably right about this - anyone else would be put through the process of going to court - the police would say "let's just let the courts decide" so to do anything different in this situation is hypocritical.

    If these people don't suffer any of the same legal repercussions we do when they get things wrong, where is their incentive to do better?

    (It's all very well to feel guilty/remorseful, I'd feel guilty as well if I hit someone in my car. But I'd still probably be charged with careless/wreckless/whatever driving - no matter the depth of my guilt or remorse.)

    If a judge doesn't think there's a case to answer, then that's up to her. If the a judge does, but the officer is found not-guilty, then, again, the process has been followed.

    Auckland CBD • Since Nov 2006 • 314 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole,

    How much would it change things if the police shooter had received the order to take down the fugitive immediately? Is it plausible that's what happened?

    I/S is demanding a prosecution of the officer who fired, but if he was acting on an express order, who's culpable?

    "Just following orders" doesn't cut it. The only person who knows what the shooter is seeing is, well, the shooter. If they can't fire safely, but they do anyway, it wasn't the IC who pull the trigger. The IC might get told off, especially if the shooter reported that there was no clear shot, but when it's all said and done only one person is responsible for taking the shot. The IC knows only what they're told by the people at the sharp end, and they rely on the operational judgement of the people who're doing the doing to implement the tactical decisions that're handed down.

    It sounds like this was just a cumulation of little odds to produce that one awful outcome. The odds of a miss, the odds of the truck stopping just as shots were fired, the odds of there being an innocent person directly in the line of fire, the odds of the round hitting that person in one of the few parts of the body where near-instant death is a certainty, etc etc.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

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