A man who allegedly fired shots at police needed surgery for severe injuries caused by a flashbang distraction device thrown into the car he was in.
The 30-year-old man, who has name suppression, was still in hospital as of Tuesday recovering from the surgery he had after he was detained on January 3.
He was arrested after a series of incidents in Horowhenua and Manawatū, which started after police were called to stop a man driving erratically in Foxton at 5.30pm.
Police said the driver fired a shot at an officer, which missed, before hijacking a car from Foxton Beach.
The man then drove to Feilding, where he again fired at police, before crashing into a patrol car on Kimbolton Rd, police said.
So he twice tried to murder a police officer.
Multiple sources have since told Stuff police used a flashbang device, something acting Central district commander Inspector Nigel Allan confirmed on Thursday.
He described it as a “distraction device” used by the armed offenders squad.
While not confirming it was the device which caused the man’s injuries – sources told Stuff it was – Allan said it was very rare for the device to cause harm.
There are overseas reports of people being seriously hurt by flashbangs.
An investigation by ProPublica in 2015 found at least 50 people in the United States were seriously injured, maimed or killed by flashbangs since 2000.
People harmed included police officers whose hands were amputated after devices prematurely detonated, a protestor who suffered permanent hearing loss, a teen who had a flashbang thrown into a rubbish container they were hiding inside, and a 12-year-old who got first and second-degree burns when one was thrown into their room.
Allan said the device was used against the man because police had been fired at twice and believed there was further risk.
“Distraction devices are a less lethal tactical option than a firearm.”
Frankly the offender is lucky to be alive. Once you start shooting at police officers, your life expectancy will often be in the minutes.
The Police did him a favour by only using a flashbang.