Police acknowledge the findings by the Independent Police Conduct Authority which found an officer was justified in shooting an Auckland man who was attacking him with a machete.
On 20 April 2020 at around 1am, a Police dog handler was responding to numerous 111 calls where a man was reported to be damaging property in the suburb of Papatoetoe. When the officer arrived, he saw Hitesh Lal armed with a machete, trying to climb through a smashed window of a house and heard screams and crying from inside the address.
The officer armed with a police pistol has challenged Mr Lal to stop but instead he has turned and began moving towards him holding the machete above his head and making slashing motions. The officer immediately started backing away and instructed Mr Lal to drop his weapon.
The officer has called for urgent assistance but was corralled down a driveway with nowhere to go. Mr Lal has continued to come towards him with the machete and ignored repeat instructions from the officer to put down his weapon. It was at this point the officer acting in self-defence fired two shots which struck Mr Lal.
Other Police officers arrived at the scene moments later and provided first aid until Emergency Medical Technicians arrived but sadly Mr Lal died at the scene.
Counties Manukau District Commander Superintendent Jill Rogers says the IPCA agreed with the officer’s decisions that no other tactical option including deploying his dog would have been effective in this high-risk situation:
“Our officer was put into a situation where he had no choice but to use a firearm to ensure his own safety. This incident was absolutely devastating for the officer and had an outcome no one wanted.”
“Our hearts also go out to Mr Lal’s family as they have lost a much-loved family member,” says Supt. Rogers.
“This incident reminds us of the dangers of Policing and the real risk our officers can face. Their job is to prevent crime and protect our community and this is the last situation they would ever want to be in.
“Our officer continues to be well-supported by their colleagues and is a valued member of the New Zealand Police family.”