Police justified in shooting Vaughan Te Moananui in Thames

Vaughan Te Moananui was shot by police officers at his sister's house in Thames in 2015.

Vaughan Te Moananui was shot by police officers at his sister's house in Thames in 2015.

Two police officers were justified in shooting Vaughan Te Moananui in Thames, according to The Independent Police Conduct Authority.

Te Moananui was shot at his sister's house in 2015 after he told her that "he wanted to go out like a gangster, giving Thames something to talk about".

In the early hours of May 2 he shot a friend in the foot following an argument at his house in Kopu.

Police were called to the house of Vaughan Te Moananui sister's house in Thames on May 2, 2015.
Rebekah Parsons-King/Fairfax NZ

Police were called to the house of Vaughan Te Moananui sister's house in Thames on May 2, 2015.

Police were advised that gunshots had been heard but could not locate the source.

About 7am the friend left Te Moananui's house and went to Thames hospital.

As a result of family concerns about Te Moananui's mental health, police and mental health professionals went to his address.

Just after noon they found fresh pools of blood at the back of his property. Officers then armed themselves and called out the Waikato Armed Offenders Squad.

Police cordoned the property and tried for several hours to make contact with Te Moananui, who they believed was inside. But he was at his sister's address in Thames where he continued drinking.

He had his rifle with him and told his sister that he had shot someone.

Around 4pm, his sister phoned 111 telling police her brother had a gun and wanted to shoot police when they arrived. She said he had shot someone the night before, was acting irrationally, was drunk, suffered from a mental illness and she was unsure if he would harm her and her children.

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The AOS team were called, and when the officers arrived they repeatedly called for him to drop his weapon, however he did not comply and walked towards the officers asking them to shoot him.

He continued walking to the front of the house, then raised his rifle at two officers.

Both officers believed Te Moananui was going to shoot them and in response, both officers fired one shot at him.

He died from these gunshot wounds.

The authority found that the deployment of AOS to Te Moananui's address and his sister's address in Thames was timely and appropriate.

The AOS were in the process of cordoning and containing the sister's address when Te Moananui confronted them with a firearm. Once that occurred, other tactical options were not viable or appropriate.

"The two AOS officers were justified in shooting Mr Te Moananui. At the time the officers fired, Mr Te Moananui was pointing his rifle at them and they feared for their lives. The death of Mr Te Moananui was a tragedy but one that was unavoidable in the circumstances," authority chair, Judge Sir David Carruthers said.

Waikato police district commander, Superintendent Bruce Bird said this was a tragic situation for Te Moananui and his family, and a stressful time for everyone involved. 

"Police were confronted with a very difficult situation. The officers did not want to shoot Mr Te Moananui but, given the risk he posed, they were left with no other option.

"Sadly, the incident ended with the loss of his life and we extend our sympathies to his family."

Bird said he accepted the findings of the report, which concluded that the police response was appropriate during this dynamic and dangerous event.

 - Stuff

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