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IPCA finds Police were justified in shooting man

IPCA finds Police were justified in shooting a man on Auckland’s motorway

The Independent Police Conduct Authority have found two Police officers were justified in shooting a man on an Auckland motorway who advanced at them wielding a machete.

The incident began at around 3.23am on 31 March 2018 when an officer encountered a man, who we now know was Jerrim Toms, in a Subaru vehicle which was partially blocking a lane on State Highway 1 North of Wellsford.

When the officer tried to speak with him, Mr Toms got out of his vehicle with a machete in his hand.

The officer retreated and called for backup.

Police followed Mr Toms who was at times driving erratically, at excessive speeds and with his headlights off for the next 40 minutes, using road spikes to try and stop him.

At one point while following him, Mr Toms has gotten out of his vehicle and he has shown violent and aggressive behaviour, using his machete to strike the window of the patrol vehicle while police officers were seated inside.

Eventually Mr Toms has stopped about a kilometre north of Johnstones Hill Tunnel, and despite calls from staff to drop his weapon and to get on the ground, he has continued to walk towards them with purpose still holding the machete.

This is when he was fatally shot.

Police immediately provided medical assistance but Mr Toms died at the scene.

Police carried out a criminal investigation which found the officers acted in self-defence.

The decision not to lay charges was reviewed by a Crown Solicitor who agreed with the outcome of the Police investigation.

During our investigation, Police had a significant number of community members come forward to say they had witnessed Mr Toms’ erratic driving and behaviour, and we also know he had gone to a service station earlier in the evening where he threatened to kill the sole attendant.

We also know that Mr Toms was under the influence of methamphetamine, cannabis and alcohol.

Waitemata District Commander Superintendent Naila Hassan says Police are here to keep our community safe and while no officer ever wants to be put in this position, they were left with no other options:

“These officers showed immense bravery in a high-risk situation dealing with an offender who was on methamphetamine and highly agitated.

I really want to take this opportunity to acknowledge the two officers involved.

Police shootings have a major impact on the staff involved and their families and they’ve been supported by their colleagues and wider Police family.

“Police officer’s everyday selflessly put themselves into dangerous and often life-threatening positions like on this occasion and they do this because they care about our community.

We wish that every situation could be resolved without incident but policing can be unpredictable and the situations are often complex,” says Supt.

Hassan.

“My sympathies are also with Mr Toms’ family who continue to grieve the loss of a much loved family member.

“Police acknowledge the comments by the IPCA that the overall communications and coordination of the incident could have been better but our officers were working with the best intentions in a highly fluid situation to keep our community safe.

There are always learnings for Police and we take these on board.”

ENDS

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