The Dom Post reports:
A new civil case over the police shooting of Steven Wallace in Waitara in 2000 was not an attempt to “go after” the shooter, Senior Constable Keith Abbott, a lawyer says.
Wallace, 23, was shot in the town’s main street after breaking shop windows and attacking a police car with officers in it.
HIs family say he was deprived of the right to life and investigations so far have been inadequate, lawyer Graeme Minchin said at the High Court in Wellington on Thursday. Justice Brendan Brown has reserved his decision on the Police Commissioner’s application to stop the case now.
The Wallace family won’t give this up. They blame the Police for the actions of their son. If you threaten am armed police officer with a baseball bat and advance towards them, you’ll probably be shot. Today with tasers that would be an option that would be worth trying, but this was not an option in 2000.
After police decided not to charge Abbott – a decision the deputy Solicitor General confirmed – the Wallace family took a private prosecution charging Abbott with murder. In December 2002 a Wellington jury acquitted Abbott who had said he shot Wallace in self defence.
Abbott has been cleared by a Police investigation, by Crown Law, by the IPCA and by a jury.
Wallace rampaged like a man possessed. Leaving golf clubs at various scenes he smashed and beat windows and cars. 3 cars were damaged. A taxi with passengers, a private car with 6 youths in it, the third car was a police patrol car. It has been said that night Wallace was intent on killing either himself or someone else and that the Senior Constable was an unwitting pawn in his game.
Collecting his pistol from the police station, Senior Constable Keith Abbott arrived at the scene of destruction. Beaten cars and 140 smashed windows a testimony of the Suspects State of mind. Steven Wallace began to aggressively advance on Abbott armed with a golf club and a baseball bat. Negotiation with the man proved fruitless. Wallace was warned that the policeman was armed and a warning shot was fired. With still no sign of the danger of the attack lessening Abbott withdrew 50m but was circled by Wallace and was cut off. When he reached 20m away Wallace threw the golf club at the Constables head causing him to duck and continued advancing with the softball bat. Abbott shot four shots before the man fell at 5-6m from the constable.
I also covered the IPCA report here.
The Crown said the family’s claim had no hope of success and it should be struck out.
The circumstances had been investigated three times – the trial, coroner’s inquest, and an Independent Police Conduct Authority investigation, Gunn said.
If it was allowed to go ahead the Crown wanted assurance that a contribution could be made towards its costs, conservatively estimated at just under $50,000 for a two week hearing, in the event the Wallace family lose.
The family are fighting to get legal aid to pay for the case.
No, no and no.