Coster reveals 'man became aggressive' before shot by police

NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Mon, 29 Nov 2021, 3:13PM

Coster reveals 'man became aggressive' before shot by police

NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Mon, 29 Nov 2021, 3:13PM

More details have been revealed about today's police shooting in Glen Eden that left a gunman dead and three officers injured.

Police Commissioner Andrew Coster said police had to deal with "very unpleasant events" today in the West Auckland suburb.

Coster said three police officers were injured and police shot a man dead after he fired at officers.

Armed police confront the gunman, who was fatally shot after opening fire on three officers.

"Today a man is dead and four police officers are in hospital," Coster said, referring to the incident in Glen Eden and one late last night where a police officer was hit by a car.

"Police were called to the Glen Eden address after a fire was reported and a person discharged a weapon.

"The man became aggressive and residents of neighbouring properties were evacuated.

"A police dog was used when the situation escalated. It further escalated when the man shot at officers who then shot him."

The man at the centre of the Glen Eden incident was not being sought by police prior to the incident.

Coster said two officers received moderate injuries. Another is undergoing surgery.

"The loss of any life is a tragedy," Coster said.

Asked whether the incident was gang-related, Coster said there was nothing to suggest it at this stage.

Coster said the situation reflects the level of tension being experienced by people in communities and denied police were losing control.

Asked if any immediate changes would occur, Coster said it was far too early to say what changes might be suggested by the following reviews.

"This has been a very challenging time for staff in Auckland, particularly in this district," Coster said.

"We are committed to maintaining the safety of our communities," Coster said.

"Police are very much in control," Coster said when asked about the spate of recent incidents in Auckland.

There's no indication of a connection to last week's events in Glen Eden, Coster said.

On the timeline of this morning's incident, Coster said the house was ablaze before police arrived so it is believed the shots were fired as the house was set on fire.

Coster couldn't say whether the man had a licence for a firearm.

For communities in West Auckland, Coster said he was concerned about the escalation of violence.

Nearly 1000 firearms had been recovered in Operation Tauwhiro, mainly from gang members.

No one else was being sought by police in relation to this morning's incident.

"My heart sank ... it's not what we want for our people," Coster said when asked how he felt about police being injured.

When asked about last night's New Lynn event, Coster said police responded to a burglary event and noticed a suspicious vehicle.

After deploying spikes, the fleeing driver hit the officer who had deployed the spikes.

In what Coster deemed a "cowardly act" the driver didn't stop and later crashed.

The officer went through surgery and was doing well, Coster said.

Glen Eden incident: 'Dreadful that a person has died'

Today's shooting has sparked fresh calls from the police union for frontline officers to be routinely armed.

Officers were called to Danube Lane, in Glen Eden, about 8.17am after reports of a house on fire and gunshots being fired on the street.

A man who lived at the house allegedly set fire to the house before shooting at officers when they arrived.

Police returned fire - and the resident was later pronounced dead at the scene.

Police stand guard at an incident in Glen Eden, West Auckland, this morning. Photo / Dean Purcell

One officer was seriously injured in the incident and was rushed to Auckland City Hospital for treatment. Two other officers suffered moderate injuries and were taken to the same hospital.

Police Association vice-president Mike McRandle said the officers who attended today's shooting had attempted to resolve it calmly - but matters escalated to the point they had to respond.

"It is dreadful that a person has died, and also it is an enormous strain on the officers put in a position of having to return fire," McRandle said.

"Using lethal force is the most difficult decision for a police officer and has long-lasting ramifications."

McRandle says today's shooting was yet another example of the "terrible consequences" of the proliferation of easily accessible firearms throughout New Zealand communities.

He cited the Herald's article today highlighting the 900 firearms incidents already reported in parts of Auckland this year.

Police were responding daily to gun violence, armed robberies, car-jackings and inter-gang warfare with firearms involved, and police officers also being shot at.

"We are witnessing a policing environment that is progressively more and more dangerous and it is no surprise to the association that the majority of its constabulary members believe they need to be armed."

Dramatic video footage captured by residents showed how the event unfolded.

At one point, officers can be seen rushing towards the property before taking cover behind police vehicles and a small truck parked on the road.

An armed Police officer at the scene this morning. Photo / Dean Purcell

Police and firefighters respond to the incident in Glen Eden this morning. Photo / Dean Purcell

Another video shows several police officers - armed with rifles pointed at the house - lining up behind each other before moving in.

Multiple shots can be heard at times, a dog barking and yelling from Police for residents to get in inside, as well as to the man at the centre of the incident.

Later on, officers can be seen helping one of their colleagues from the property before they are then spotted performing CPR, doing chest compressions as an ambulance arrives.

As the video ends the officers can be seen still working on the injured person, not letting up their lifesaving efforts.

Debate over arming police

Since Constable Matthew Hunt died last year, there has been a lot of debate about whether police officers should be armed as they respond to a growing number of gun-related incidents.

Police Minister Poto Williams has been opposed to the general arming of police, saying it was a stance based on feedback she'd received from Māori, Pasifika and South Auckland communities who she claimed were against general arming.

Commissioner Coster has also dismissed the calls for all frontline officers to be armed.

Instead in September he announced a new tactical response team in response to increasing violence against officers.

More police will have armed offender squad training as part of a $45 million Government investment in frontline officers' safety.

At the time of the announcement in September, Coster said Hunt's death was the driving force for a complete rethink of frontline safety.

The proposed model means more than 200 additional police officers will be qualified at the armed offender squad standard. Currently there are 300 members of the armed offender squad.

Current tactical training to frontline staff has also been doubled from 3.5 to 7.5 days per year.