Police 'brave and justified' in fatal shooting outside Upper Hutt McDonald's

Police at the scene of the fatal shooting in Upper Hutt on September 8, 2015. Photo / Hagen Hopkins
Police at the scene of the fatal shooting in Upper Hutt on September 8, 2015. Photo / Hagen Hopkins

The actions of two police officers who shot a man dead outside an Upper Hutt McDonald's after an armed confrontation last year were brave and justified, the Independent Police Conduct Authority has found.

Pera Ariki Smiler, 25, was shot by police on September 8 after brandishing and firing a high-powered rifle in the town centre and inside the fast food restaurant.

IPCA chairman Judge Sir David Carruthers said in his findings, released today, that the police response to the incident was "justified, immediate and effective".

"The police officers who armed themselves and went towards Upper Hutt McDonald's did so at great personal risk, in order to protect the public. They believed that people in the restaurant had been shot.

Pera Smiler was shot dead by police in Upper Hutt. Photo / Facebook
Pera Smiler was shot dead by police in Upper Hutt. Photo / Facebook

"I acknowledge the bravery and professionalism of all the officers who responded on that day."

Police immediately armed themselves and went to the scene after receiving multiple 111 emergency calls saying a man was "shooting at people" and had "already shot someone" inside McDonald's.

Smiler fired twice at police from the rear entrance of the restaurant, narrowly missing the Upper Hutt acting sergeant who later repeatedly challenged him to drop his firearm.

Smiler also raised the barrel of his rifle towards an armed offenders squad (AOS) officer and an AOS dog handler when they arrived on the scene.

The AOS officer feared the man was about to shoot them, and fired twice at Smiler. The Upper acting sergeant also fired once at Smiler.

Acting Assistant Commissioner Sam Hoyle said it was a very dangerous situation.

"I am very proud of the responding staff, some of whom were off-duty at the time. They acted with great courage to protect the public and I have no doubt that their actions on that day prevented this from becoming an even greater tragedy.

"They exercised sound judgement and leadership in a very challenging, fast moving situation which was taking place in a busy retail area with the public present."

Hoyle said that while this was not the outcome that anyone wanted, he commends the responding staff "who did their duty with professionalism and courage".

- NZ Herald

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