Arguments on Naitoko shooting

Just as I was critical of No Right Turn yesterday for demanding the officer who shot be put on trial, I’m also critical to see in the NZ Herald the headline “Motorway shooting lawful, say experts”.

I’d quite like the facts to be established, before people jump to conclusions that the shooting is or is not legal.

Having said that, Gooner at No Minister responds to No Right Turn in an interesting post. Gooner is a former cop turned lawyer so has some experience here. What I like in his post is that it all has to be judged in individual context:

I/S is fair and square wrong. He conflates rights with responsibilities or duties. The police do have the right to shoot people in this country just as much as they have the right to handcuff suspects, use force, drive at excessive speed etc. You get the point. But their rights to do all these things have to be balanced with the situation they are facing at the time. You break the law if you drive at excesive speed to a report of a historic house burglary. And, there is (usually) no need to handcuff a 16 yr old female shoplifter. Each situation depends on the circumstances. As does this shooting.

He then says that if the officer was justified in shooting, it is an issue of how much care was taken, as he obviously shot the wrong person:

Having met this requirement, it seems it then becomes an issue of how much care the officer took in taking aim and pulling the trigger. Again, this cannot be judged against the ordinary standard of a deer hunter in the Ureweras. Such a deer hunter is simply not operating in the same circumstances as police are who make split-second decisions when aiming and pulling the trigger. The deer hunter might have minutes to settle himself, confirm his target etc. The police have seconds. I have been in this position. It is not pleasant. Nor is it easy.

Now it has not yet been established whether the officer had seconds, or minutes. Or what level of training the officer had. Or how close the victim was to the target. So again I reserve judgement until these are established by a competent and credible authority.

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