1 September 2016
The Independent Police Conduct Authority has found that two Police officers were justified in shooting David Cerven, a Slovakian national, in Myers Park, Auckland on 2 August 2015. However, the actions of the officers, in deciding to immediately approach and challenge Mr Cerven while he was engaged with other unarmed officers, precipitated Mr Cerven’s response.
About 25 minutes before he was shot, Mr Cerven called Police asking them to meet him in Myers Park to talk about three aggravated robberies he was suspected of committing. The first four officers who went to the park did not have firearms. They began talking to Mr Cerven who did not comply with their requests to come down from a hill he was on, show his hands or lie on the ground. A short time later Mr Cerven told them he had a gun.
Two armed officers entered the park with their firearms ready to use, quickly approaching Mr Cerven and yelling at him to get on the ground. Mr Cerven did not comply. Instead, he took his hands out of his pockets and appeared to clasp them together, making it look like he had a firearm in his hands. Both officers simultaneously fired a number of shots at Mr Cerven, who died at the scene.
The Authority accepts that the two officers believed Mr Cerven had a gun, feared for their lives and in the circumstances, according to law and Police policy, were justified in shooting him. However, the Authority is also of the view that the focus of the two officers was on the risk Mr Cerven posed to the unarmed officers at the scene and not on a complete assessment of the situation. In acting as they did, the two officers did not give sufficient weight to the risk members of the public were exposed to, or whether it was necessary to immediately engage Mr Cerven. Specifically, they did not consider the possibility of:
In addition, the two officers did not advise the communications centre of their intended approach. Their failure to do so meant that neither the communications centre nor the four officers present in the park were aware of their plan and it was not approved by the dispatcher, who at that time had control of the incident. As the four other officers were unaware of the plan, they had limited time to retreat and take cover.
Authority Chair Judge Sir David Carruthers said: “The public must have confidence that Police follow law and policy at all times – particularly where lethal force is involved. In this case, the Authority accepts that the officers were justified in shooting Mr Cerven, but has found that some of their actions leading up to the shooting were wanting – to the extent they precipitated the response that led to his death.’’
The Authority finds that Police communications centre staff responded appropriately to Mr Cerven’s 111 call. Once Mr Cerven told Police he had a gun, the dispatcher acted correctly in attempting to cordon as many park entrances as possible and in ensuring armed officers were sent to the scene. It also finds Mr Cerven received all reasonable assistance from Police after he was shot.
Fatal Police shooting of David Cerven (PDF 884 KB)