Family await police shooting report

By Mark Story of Hawke's Bay Today -
Lachan Kelly-Tumarae's grandmother Narina Tumarae (right) and cousin Gilbert Tumarae lay tributes at his grave, two years after the teenager was fatally shot by police. Photo / Duncan Brown
Lachan Kelly-Tumarae's grandmother Narina Tumarae (right) and cousin Gilbert Tumarae lay tributes at his grave, two years after the teenager was fatally shot by police. Photo / Duncan Brown

A delayed report into the fatal police shooting of her teenaged grandson means Narina Tumarae is still waiting to unveil his headstone.

Today marks two years to the day since 19-year-old Lachan Kelly-Tumarae stepped out of his vehicle with a loaded shotgun and was shot by officers outside the Omahu urupa where he rests.

His 61-year-old grandmother said the grieving family was struggling to explain why the Independent Police Conduct Authority (IPCA) report on the shooting had yet to be released. "We have no idea why it's taken so long. It's frustrating," Mrs Tumarae said.

"We were going to have his unveiling last year but we thought no, we need to know what these reports are going to say."

The IPCA was in contact with the family about once a month, she said.

Last year she appeared on television with her grandson's bullet-ridden clothing and questioned why police had fired 14 times. "They must've really mangled him.

It's like he was hit and hit and hit."

Yesterday she said while the family was concerned with the delay, they simply wanted the truth. "We'd rather have an accurate report that gets it right. Who knows if they're [police] hiding something, we're leaving that in the hands of our Lord upstairs.

"Police can't moan about how long this is taking. It was they themselves that took 18 months before releasing their own report. That made us, and others, jump to their own conclusions."

In May last year a police investigation found the officer who shot the teenager was not criminally liable for his death.

The Flaxmere grandmother said family members would gather at the urupa today for a commemorative service.

Lachan's mother, Mere Tumarae, who was living in Christchurch at the time of the shooting, had since moved to Australia.

It's understood the report was due to be released in the next few weeks.

A spokesperson for the Independent Police Conduct Authority said the report was being finalised and will then go to police under a "required natural justice process" before being made public.

Among those awaiting release of the report is Waikato district coroner Peter Ryan, who has so far been unable to set a date for an inquest.

The shooting happened at the end of a low-speed pursuit from Wordsworth Cr in the Napier suburb of Maraenui on March 28, 2011, from where he was said to have driven off after pointing the gun at a police officer investigating his suspicious behaviour around a vehicle in the street.

Details of the police investigation aimed at establishing if there was any criminal liability on the part of the police, were released in May last year by Detective Superintendent Andy Lovelock, and established the teenager had been hit in the abdomen by one of 14 shots fired by a police officer.

Police believe a shot had already been fired from the shotgun in the vehicle driven by Mr Tumarae, though the shot was not fired at police.

Mr Lovelock said that according to evidence gathered, Mr Tumarae got out of the car wearing a cartridge belt and pointed the loaded weapon point-blank at police in a car.

An officer fired several shots low and with the threat remaining, fired more shots, after which Mr Tumarae fell to the ground.

The delays in the reports are frustrating the Police Association, although vice-president and Hawke's Bay officer Luke Shadbolt said he could understand that the IPCA investigation extended past that of a normal police inquiry to matters of procedure and policy.

The officers involved had all been interviewed in the week following the shooting, and in some cases again by IPCA investigators in the ensuing months.

"Every time there is something referring to it in public it affects the individuals and the organisations," he said. "They're still dealing with the aftermath."

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