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Authority finds actions justified in fatal shooting

Authority finds actions justified in fatal shooting

Police note today's Independent Police Conduct Authority report which finds that the fatal shooting of Antony Ratahi in July 2011 at Opunake was justified.

Acting Central District Commander Superintendent Sue Schwalger said Police want to acknowledge the loss to the Ratahi family during this incident and would have preferred to have resolved it in a less tragic manner; however Mr Ratahi placed the life of his ex-partner and officers at significant risk.

"All Police staff involved were saddened that the incident had ended in tragedy, but there had ultimately been no alternative, given Mr Ratahi's violent and aggressive behaviour, which included explicit threats to shoot Police and others.

"Using a firearm in these situations is always a last resort. But tragically, Mr Ratahi put himself and Police in a position where there was no other option, after negotiations were unsuccessful and all other tactical options had been exhausted – and the officer involved genuinely believed Mr Ratahi was armed and likely to carry out his threats."

In releasing its report, Authority Chair Judge Sir David Carruthers said Police were faced with an "incredibly dangerous situation" and courageously put their own lives at risk to ensure the safety of Mr Ratahi's hostage.

The report supports the actions police took to resolve the incident and notes that the officer who shot Mr Ratahi was justified in doing so "to remove the threat of death or serious bodily harm".

"Any situation involving an armed offender is extremely challenging and complex, and our staff work very hard to resolve every incident without the need to resort to lethal force. However, our ultimate duty is to protect the public, victims, and our officers from harm, and I acknowledge the courage and professionalism of the Police staff who put their own lives at risk in an effort to resolve what was a highly dangerous and volatile situation."

The Authority also found that Police considered the option of using family members in the negotiation process but, for good reason, decided to continue to use trained negotiators.

"Police has a responsibility to both protect life and to enforce the law, and it is often a difficult balance to strike. No police officer wants to have to use lethal force, but our job is to keep our communities safe."

Superintendent Schwalger said Police acknowledged the Authority's comments regarding development of a policy relating to compulsory alcohol and drug testing for officers involved in critical incidents, and said work in this area was well advanced.


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