Shooting of armed man in Otaki 'justified'

Last updated 12:02 30/11/2012

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A police officer fired through a wardrobe door to wound a man after he threatened them with a gun. 

William Hartley suffered gunshot wounds to his right hand and forearm and was arrested at the Otaki home during the incident in February last year.

His rifle was found cocked and fully loaded with eight rounds including one in the breach.

Following an investigation into the incident the Independent Police Conduct Authority today said police were justified in shooting Hartley.

However, it criticised police for not wearing ballistic body armour while carrying firearms and failing to update the National Intelligence Application to include reference to Hartley’s unconfirmed possession and access to firearms.

The shooting followed a complaint by a woman who called for help after a domestic assault on February 14 about 10.30am.

The woman alleged that Hartley had assaulted her and left her on the side of the road in Levin.

She alleged that Mr Hartley had threatened to shoot her and had access to firearms although she had not seen them.

The information was not recorded by police in the intelligence application. The woman was interviewed while police tried unsuccessfully to catch Hartley.

After monitoring his home for over a week, four police armed with firearms and a Taser were sent to try and find him again. About 1.20am on February 24 they advised the central communications centre they planned to raid his home. They were not wearing ballistic body armour.

Through a gap in the curtains police saw Hartley leave the lounge and walk down the hallway towards the rear of the house. At the same time police arrested another person at the home for obstructing their entry.

By the time police got inside the house Hartley had barricaded himself in a bedroom using furniture and, despite repeated requests, refused to come out.

An officer could see Hartley through a hole in a the door standing in the centre of the room "apparently unarmed and posing no obvious threat".

A short time later police forced their way into the room after an officer saw Hartley "make movements" which led them to believe he was going to hurt himself. 

As they entered the room he "partially secreted" himself in a wardrobe and produced a gun which he pointed at one officer who retreated from the room and drew his gun.

Hartley switched his attention to another officer who "saw the rifle barrel pointing at him from a distance of about 2 metres, drew his Glock pistol and fired two rounds through the wardrobe door".

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In his findings IPCA chairman Judge Sir David Carruthers said police had "complied with the law and had used sound judgment".

"The officer was justified in using force to defend himself and the force was not excessive in the circumstances," Sir David said.

He criticised staff for not wearing their ballistic body armour and recommended all staff be reminded of police policy and their obligation to wear the armour when carrying guns.

Hartley was found guilty of two charges of using a firearm against a police and sentenced to four years’ imprisonment in August.

Contact Blair Ensor
Police reporter
Email: blair.ensor@dompost.co.nz
Twitter: @blairensor

- The Dominion Post

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