Police attack Wallace 'myth'

A myth has grown up around the police shooting of Steven Wallace that he was shot for breaking windows, says the Police Association.

"That was not fact then and it is not a fact now," association president Greg O'Connor said last night.

Weekend reports incorrectly reported the night's events in Waitara's main street on April 30, 2000, when they stated that Steven Wallace was shot for breaking windows, Mr O'Connor said.

This was despite successive investigations that found that the police officer who shot Mr Wallace, Senior Constable Keith Abbott, had acted in self-defence, he said. "The front page of the Weekend Herald sums up the whole problem. It clearly says Steven Wallace was shot for breaking windows.

"They have forgotten to mention it is quite clear that he was trying to break open the police officer's head."

Mr O'Connor was responding to the latest investigation into the shooting, this time by the newly formed Independent Police Conduct Authority, after its predecessor, the Police Complaints Authority, failed to complete its own inquiry.

The result of what happened to the officers who attended the Waitara callout was to make other police reluctant to take action because of the possible ongoing impact on their lives. "This is a watershed case. Police have to be allowed to do their job. A tentative police force is no good for anyone. We've got to harden up."

Meanwhile, the family of Steven Wallace say they are gratified that a fully independent body is investigating his death.

"It should have been that way right from the start," Steven Wallace's father, Jim Wallace, from Waitara, said.

Taranaki Daily News