Kyra is the Rotorua Daily Post's police, emergency and court reporter.

Man shot by police a 'marvellous kid'

SHOCK AND MOURNING: Irihapeti Theodore (left) and ​ Irihapeti Wineera (right) mourn their nephew Shargin Stephens. PHOTO/BEN FRASER
SHOCK AND MOURNING: Irihapeti Theodore (left) and ​ Irihapeti Wineera (right) mourn their nephew Shargin Stephens. PHOTO/BEN FRASER

Three months after Shargin Stephens was shot by police in Rotorua his family remain in shock that this could have happened to such a "kind and caring" man.

Mr Stephens, 35, was shot twice in the stomach by a police officer on Te Ngae Rd on July 14 after he was seen wielding a slasher. Police pepper sprayed him and Tasered him three times before he was shot near Redwood Shopping Centre. He died 12 days later in Waikato Hospital.

Speaking publicly for the first time since his death, Mr Stephens' aunt Irihapeti Wineera told the Rotorua Daily Post she was shocked when she heard what had happened.

"He was one of the best boys that I knew, and to see him go like that and they said he was crazed, I just thought 'nah, that's not him', something would have had to trigger him off to be like that," Ms Wineera said.

Shargin Stephens. PHOTO/SUPPLIED
Shargin Stephens. PHOTO/SUPPLIED


"He was starting work that week, had been given the time to go to work while he was on electronic bail. He was excited about it and making plans for the near future for him and his partner.

He was getting sick of been stuck at home 24/7."

Ms Wineera had known Mr Stephens, who had a brother and four sisters, since he was a baby.

"They were the most passive and lovable kids you could ever want, they moved to Auckland with their mother and father and then after he finished school Shargin came back because Ngapuna is his home.

"He was lovable, he wasn't rowdy, he was always respectful of his elders. While on e-bail he was doing a lot of gardening to occupy his time.

"He worked as a kiwifruit pruner during the seasonal periods for the last eight years."

He also picked and packed kiwifruit, she said.

"He was such a marvellous kid, I moved to Australia for almost two years and I came back about March this year and he was the first one on my doorstep, him and his partner.

SHOCK AND MOURNING: Irihapeti Theodore (left) and ​ Irihapeti Wineera (right) mourn their nephew Shargin Stephens. PHOTO/BEN FRASER
SHOCK AND MOURNING: Irihapeti Theodore (left) and ​ Irihapeti Wineera (right) mourn their nephew Shargin Stephens. PHOTO/BEN FRASER


"He had silverbeet, kamokamo, potatoes, a few fish and he says, 'here aunty'.

"That was the type of boy he was and he always said if there was anything I wanted him to do like mow the lawns or whatever just to go and get him.

"He loved fishing, he loved gardening, things a so-called 'P freak' wouldn't do," she said.

"Every now and again he would pop in and sit and have a cup of tea, he would come down and make sure I was okay. He was a real son to me, even when my own boys were stressing me out."

Ms Wineera said his older brother had died before him and his mother died of cancer four years ago.

"His father was coming down to let the family know about his oldest son's unveiling and then that happened to Shargin.

"He only just lost his wife and then his two sons."

She said Mr Stephens loved his partner, who he had been with 15 years.

"She wasn't coping for a little while, she was going to work and coming back and sitting outside his grave all night. It's sad. There's a real big hole in her life at the moment."

She said the community was devastated by what happened.

"It shocked all of our family that that sort of thing could have happened to our own.

"He's always been caring, I could ask him for anything and if he had it, he'd give it, not that I would, but that's who he was."

Irihapeti Theodore, another of Mr Stephens' aunts, said he paid for and erected his mother's headstone, which he is now buried beside.

"He did a good job of doing the boxing and cementing and putting the gravestone on. This is how he was, he wasn't one to get all upset and do anything stupid.

"We couldn't understand what all this was about and I knew it must have been stress.

"It was really quite upsetting because we knew what a good person he was, he was happy-go-lucky."

At the time, police said Mr Stephens was believed to be under the influence of "a substance", possibly methamphetamine.

"We thought because he was on electronic bail they would have been drug testing him and if that had come up they would've thrown him back in jail, so it just doesn't ring true.

"The next day was going to be his first day back at kiwifruit pruning and he wouldn't have got that job if he was on drugs because they test there as well.

"We are still in shock, he had been in and out of jail for burglary but not violent things, that wasn't him," Mrs Theodore said.

A police spokeswoman said the police investigation into the shooting was ongoing. All officers involved in the incident are now back at work.

Manager of complaints at the Independent Police Conduct Authority Pieter Roozendaal said its investigation was also ongoing and was likely to take several more months.

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