No matter the circumstances, the loss of a young life is always a tragedy.

Shargin Stephens, who died on Tuesday nearly two weeks after being shot by a police officer on Te Ngae Rd, had whanau and friends who loved him dearly and who will be grieving his sudden death in such a violent manner.

Mr Stephens - who police suspected to be under the influence of P - was in possession of a slasher and failed to surrender to police despite being pepper sprayed and tasered.

Regardless of his actions, his death was not the outcome anyone, least of all the police, would have wanted.


A police investigation is under way into the incident, as is a separate probe by the Independent Police Conduct Authority. In due course they will make a ruling on the actions of the police that day based on all the evidence. Until then it would be wrong to speculate on exactly what happened or who, if anyone, was at fault.

What is clear though is just as Mr Stephens' family is going through a hugely traumatic time, others too have been affected by the July 14 incident.

The officer who shot Mr Stephens is receiving support from the police force as are other police at the scene that day.

This incident came months after the Onepu siege in which four Rotorua police officers were shot. The spike in numbers of Rotorua police receiving counselling this year, should not be viewed as a negative or a sign of weakness, but a sign that police are human.

Let's also spare a thought for those ordinary folk who witnessed the shooting. It took place in full view of several businesses, passing motorists and local workers popping to the shopping centre for lunch.

None of them could have imagined when they left home that day they would watch a man be shot and sustain injuries that would later kill him. It would not have been easy and for some, that will have stayed with them.

When the investigation is complete there will be time to look at what can be done to prevent such a horrific incident happening again.

In the meantime, thoughts go out to all those dealing with its aftermath.