Mum rejects police shooting report

Last updated 05:00 08/05/2012
Lachan Kelly-Tumarae
Lachan Kelly-Tumarae, 19, from Flaxmere.

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The mother of a man shot dead by police says she is not satisfied with an investigation into his death and will hire an expert to conduct further forensic examinations.

The results of the investigation, published yesterday, said an officer fired 14 shots at Lachan Kelly-Tumarae but hit him only three times. Mr Kelly-Tumarae, 19, was hit in his abdomen, right thigh and right leg.

The shooting occurred at Fernhill, about 15km from Napier, after police had followed him there on March 28 last year.

He had been seen acting suspiciously in suburban Napier and, when police approached, he pointed a shotgun at them. They followed him to Fernhill, where he got out of his car and pointed the firearm at them again and did not respond to officers' warnings.

Detective Superintendent Andy Lovelock of Auckland, who conducted the investigation, said an officer fired 14 shots at Mr 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 Mr Kelly-Tumarae falling to the ground. 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 Mr Kelly-Tumarae with the shotgun and pointing it at their colleagues."

After he fell to the ground, Mr Kelly-Tumarae continued to behave aggressively and was handcuffed.

"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," Mr Lovelock said.

Mr Kelly-Tumarae died in hospital a short time later.

Mr Lovelock said a bullet fragment entered his left shoe, causing a superficial wound to his foot. There were multiple holes in his clothing, but this was due to several factors, including the shirt being cut in places for forensic testing; some shots being thought to have gone through folded pieces of fabric; and pieces of shrapnel leaving holes.

There were also some cuts, tears and cigarette burns in the shirt before the shooting, Mr Lovelock said.

Mr Kelly-Tumarae's mother, Mereheni Tumarae, said the family met police officers yesterday, but she was not satisfied with the investigation's findings.

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"We know how police can work their situation. They've come to the conclusion that they couldn't detain him so have used force against him," Mrs Tumarae said.

She did not believe the police version of events and still questioned whether her son had been armed when he was shot.

"They've concocted things to suit their position. Anything can be changed or manipulated."

She believed her son had been shot more than three times and was planning to hire a forensic specialist to study his clothing to see if that could be verified.

A police spokeswoman said the investigation had been lengthy because the large number of police who attended the incident had to be interviewed at length and there were long delays waiting for the results of some forensic tests that were sent to overseas agencies.

The case would now be referred to the coroner. An investigation into the shooting by the Independent Police Conduct Authority has yet to be finalised.

- The Dominion Post

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