Man left paraplegic avoids jail

TRACEY CHATTERTON
Last updated 10:21 27/11/2012

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Hawke's Bay

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A man who threatened to kill two police officers has avoided jail because he was left a paraplegic when the police shot him.

An officer shot David Andrew Taite, 49, of Opotiki, last October because he claimed the whisky bottle concealed in his jacket pocket was a gun.

Earlier this month, Judge Brooke Gibson found Taite guilty of threatening to kill the officers.

However, he dismissed two charges of presenting a whisky bottle as a firearm because Taite did not brandish or display the bottle. Police also failed to prove a dangerous driving charge during a defended hearing in Napier District Court in September.

Officers were called to Otane just after midnight on October 20 last year after sightings of Taite, who was wanted on other charges.

Two Hastings officers, who have permanent name suppression and were referred to as officers P and Q, pulled over a car in which Taite was a passenger on State Highway 2.

Officer P believed he was concealing something that looked like a gun barrel inside his jacket and said he yelled: "I've got a gun, and I'm gonna kill you."

Officer P shot Taite in the torso. He fell to the ground but continued threatening the officers, claiming he had a grenade on him. Taite then pulled the whisky bottle from his pocket and threw it at the officers. They restrained him and gave him assistance while they waited for an ambulance to arrive. Taite's injuries left him a paraplegic.

Taite appeared for sentence this morning on two charges of threatening to kill, unlawfully taking a vehicle, dangerous driving and two burglary charges.

His lawyer Eric Forster said Taite had a "human response" during a pressured situation. He submitted that a prison sentence would be "disproportionately severe" on Taite given the trauma he experienced and that he now had a permanent disability.

Crown Prosecutor Clayton Walker said the police officer felt he had no choice but to shoot Taite because he feared for his life.

Judge Gibson said Taite had committed several serious offences and if it weren't for his disability he would have sentenced him to prison. He accepted that while Taite had a significant previous record, including previously attempting to murder a police officer, he had not offended for 11 years.

Taite was sentenced to eight months' home detention. Judge Gibson disqualified him from driving for six months, although it was unlikely Taite would ever be able to drive again.

Contact Tracey Chatterton
Hawke's Bay reporter
Email: tracey.chatterton@dompost.co.nz
Twitter: @trackchatt

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- The Dominion Post

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