20 October 2016
The Independent Police Conduct Authority has found that two Police officers were justified in shooting Vaughan Te Moananui at his sister’s house in Thames at 4.37pm on Saturday, 2 May 2015.
In the early hours of 2 May, Mr Te Moananui shot a friend in the foot following an argument at his house in Kopu. Police were advised that gunshots had been heard but could not locate the source. At about 7am the friend left Mr Te Moananui’s house and went to Thames hospital. His injury was reported to Police at 8.41am.
As a result of family concerns about Mr 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. As a result the officers armed themselves and called out the Waikato Armed Offenders Squad. Police cordoned the property and tried for several hours to make contact with Mr Te Moananui, who they believed was inside.
In fact, Mr Te Moananui was at his sister’s address in Thames where he had continued drinking. He had his rifle with him and told his sister that he had shot someone. He also told her that “he wanted to go out like a gangster, giving Thames something to talk about.” Just after 4pm, Mr Te Moananui’s sister telephoned 111 telling the Police call taker that her brother had a gun and wanted to shoot Police when they arrived. She also told the call taker that 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.
At about 4.23pm an AOS team left Mr Te Moananui’s address and travelled to Thames. As officers took up positions around the house, Mr Te Moananui who was outside with his rifle, saw them. Officers immediately and repeatedly called for Mr Te Moananui 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 that Mr Te Moananui was going to shoot them and in response, both officers fired one shot at him. Mr Te Moananui died from these gunshot wounds.
The Authority found that the deployment of AOS to Mr 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 Mr 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.” said Authority Chair, Judge Sir David Carruthers.
Fatal Police Shooting of Vaughan Te Moananui (PDF 602 KB)