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Police back Taser use as shooting probe continues

Published: 5:48AM Tuesday June 11, 2013 Source: ONE News

The Police Association of New Zealand is backing police use of firearms in serious circumstances.

Three separate police inquiries have been launched following the shooting of Adam Te Rata Charles Morehu in New Plymouth on Saturday.

Morehu was tasered several times before being fatally shot after allegedly firing at an officer.

The Police Association's Greg O'Connor told TV ONE's Breakfast this morning that all "tactical" options need to be available to police officers working on the beat.

"The Taser is another tactical option which police have available. It has been a very good option, however, it doesn't always work.

"Whether it be climatic, or whether because the way the offender is acting, or because of the amount of clothing they have on, it doesn't always work... that's why it is important to have other options available," he said.

With regard to Tasers, O'Connor said that police were looking at introducing new improved models "all the time".

He also said that the public needs to be reminded that officers are confronted by unpredictable situations on a daily basis.

"We saw in this situation where there is a very ordinary piece of policing, what we call 'burglars on'. 

"It happens all time, 4am in the morning. Officers go there generally expecting to see kids or people who are breaking in for alcohol, and no one expected to be confronted with the situation they were," he said.

O'Connor also told Breakfast that the Police Association sent their sympathies to Morehu's grieving family.

"Our sympathies go out to the family of Adam Morehu, they are right to be asking the questions they are, and we admire the dignity they are showing," he added. 

Investigation

Morehu, 33, was shot after fleeing from the New Plymouth Golf Club following an alleged robbery.

He allegedly fired a shot at police before officers retaliated.

A post-mortem has revealed he suffered two fatal wounds to his torso.

"The findings from the post mortem are important to the overall investigation," Central District Commander Superintendent Russell Gibson said.

"These results along with the scene examination and reconstruction of events will in time provide us with a full understanding of what took place that morning."

ONE News has been told Morehu was tasered twice, perhaps three times by police before he was shot. Gibson confirmed a Taser had been used before Morehu was shot, but did not say how many times.

Gibson said the three-part investigation is expected to take some time. Investigations into include a coronial review, an internal police policy and processes inquiry and the Independent Police Conduct Authority is also looking into the matter.

Gibson said this should reassure the public that this incident will be overseen objectively.

"The investigations are an important part of determining that police have acted appropriately and we are continuing to work closely with the Morehu family and keep them updated as the investigation progresses," he said.

Meanwhile, Morehu's family said that the post mortem examination had not satisfied their concerns about the circumstances of his death.

"These initial findings created even more questions for the whanau to be answered.

"We are working with the police to ensure that the communications with the police remain open," they said in a statement.

The incident

Police were notified of a break in at the golf club, in the suburb of Fitzroy, at around 4am on Saturday morning after alarms went off.

Police said Morehu and a friend attempted to flee on a motorbike, but crashed.

A police dog caught Morehu's friend and an unarmed police officer went to arrest him, Assistant police commissioner Grant Nicholls said.

"During this time the second offender [Morehu] remained with the motorbike and displayed aggressive behaviour towards police, and told the officers that he was going to kill them. He then fired a shot at police."

Nicholls said a second officer got a Glock pistol from the police car.

The second alleged offender, Kevin Ronald Bishell, was charged with two counts of aggravated burglary and being a party to using a firearm against a police officer and using a firearm in the commission of an offence.

The 32-year-old appeared in New Plymouth District Court yesterday and was remanded in custody.

He is expected to reappear in court later this month.

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