A police officer who fired 21 shots at a driver who tried to run him over acted in justified self-defence, the Independent Police Conduct Authority says.
The officer pulled the trigger at a driver "who repeatedly drove towards and reversed at him" in the Coromandel in August 2017, the IPCA said in a statement.
The incident happened after police were advised that a firearm and a silver Holden Commodore car had been stolen in two separate incidents in the Coromandel area.
An officer armed himself with a pistol and later found the offenders, a man driving a Subaru and a woman who was driving the Holden.
The officer pulled the woman over and was in the process of arresting her when the man in the Subaru drove towards them and rammed the police car's open door.
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The man reversed around the police car in the direction of the officer, who believed the man was trying to run him over and kill or seriously injure him.
"The man repeatedly tried to run the officer over."
The officer fired multiple shots, intending to incapacitate the driver.
No one was injured during the incident.
The man and woman were subsequently arrested and charged. Both pleaded guilty to unlawfully taking a motor vehicle and burglary, and the man also pleaded guilty to aggravated assault.
The Authority determined that the officer was justified in arming himself, and
firing the shots in self-defense.
Authority chairman Judge Colin Doherty said the man could not be stopped by any other means than the use of a firearm. The officer believed he was in a vulnerable position and had no realistic way of hiding or escaping.
Other defensive options would have been ineffective against an attacker using a car as a weapon, he said.
The Authority did find that the officer breached police policy by not putting on ballistic body armour when he armed himself.
Waikato District Commander Superintendent Bruce Bird said this was a "fast and evolving" situation in which the officer made judgement calls that were supported by the IPCA.
The officer was highlighted as being "extremely courageous" and made all the appropriate notifications while this incident was unfolding, he said.
He said this was a traumatic experience for the staff concerned and their colleagues, particularly in Eastern Waikato, who we continue to support.