Police back officer over Flaxmere shooting

MARTY SHARPE
Last updated 16:39 07/05/2012
Lachan Kelly-Tumarae
SUPPLIED
Lachan Kelly-Tumarae, 19, from Flaxmere.

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A police investigation into the fatal shooting of a Hawke's Bay man last year has found that the officer who fired the shots was justified in doing so.

Lachan Kelly-Tumarae, 19, died after being shot by police on March 28 last year. Police met with his family today.

Detective Superintendent Andy Lovelock said one shot hit Kelly-Tumarae in the abdomen, and one passed through his right thigh. 

There was also a second shot to his right leg and a bullet fragment entered his left shoe, causing a superficial injury to his foot. 

Neither of these two shots would have proved fatal.

The police investigation has found that the police officer fired 14 shots at Kelly-Tumarae. 

A number of shots were discharged before the officer realised he was firing too low. 

The threat remained to police and the officer fired more shots that resulted in Kelly-Tumarae falling to the ground.

Lovelock said events happened "very quickly" and it was only 26 seconds from the time Kelly-Tumarae stepped out of his car with a loaded 12-gauge shotgun until the shooting was over.

He got out of the car presenting the firearm at police.  He did not respond to warnings from police.  

He had posed a significant threat to police, pointing his loaded shotgun at police in a car at point blank range.  He was also wearing a full cartridge belt slung across his chest.  Four police officers confirmed they saw Kelly-Tumarae with the shotgun and pointing it at their colleagues.

After Kelly-Tumarae fell to the ground, he was handcuffed by police due to his aggressive behaviour.  When police saw the extent of his injuries the handcuffs were removed and the officers provided immediate First Aid. 

He was taken to hospital by ambulance, with a police officer in the back assisting ambulance officers  and another officer driving the ambulance.

Lovelock said the multiple number of holes in Kelly-Tumarae's clothing  were due to several factors including; the shirt being cut in places for forensic testing, some shots are believed to have gone through folded pieces of fabric and pieces of shrapnel had left holes.

There were already some cuts, tears and cigarette burns in the shirt before the shooting.

Lovelock said the police investigation was now complete and the case would now be referred to the Coroner. 

An IPCA investigation into the shooting has yet to be finalised.

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- The Dominion Post

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