A man with a dark past who was fatally shot by police in New Plymouth told a friend the morning before his death that he wanted to "make changes" to his life.
Kaoss Price was shot on Saturday night during a vehicle stop in Taranaki's Devon Rd about 9.30pm after he rammed a patrol car with his vehicle.
The former prison inmate was once described as a "one-man crime wave" after a 12-month spree of offending.
But a friend who knew the 22-year-old claims the troubled young man was set to turn his life around.
Karen, who did not supply a last name, told Newstalk ZB she spent time speaking with Price the morning before he died. They talked about his life and upbringing.
"He was telling us about, you know, the mistakes there had been in life and he said he loved us when he left and that he wants to make changes."
A vehicle driven by an associate of Price was travelling on State Highway 3 between New Plymouth and Waitara on Saturday night.
Price had been following another vehicle in a convoy. When officers stopped the first car, Price drove past, turned around then rammed the stationary police car, Assistant Police Commissioner Sandra Venables told reporters yesterday.
It is unclear what happened next, but Price was fatally shot and died at the scene.
Karen said she and others knew who had died before Price was named by media on Sunday night.
"At the end of the day, he's a son, a brother, a grandson," she said.
While she knew about his criminal record, Karen claimed Price was unarmed and that police did not need to use a gun.
"We are going to miss this guy. Yeah, he did a lot of things wrong and that but no one can judge us. Only God can judge us," she said.
"He went to jail, the judge let him out. Yep maybe he did a couple of things wrong, he turned around and rammed a car.
"But there was no need for the police to pull a gun and shoot him."
Police refused to comment on detailed questions on the incident.
Venables would also not be drawn on the exact sequence of events. Any further details were the subject of investigations, with witness statements yet to be taken.
A critical incident investigation was under way to determine the circumstances of the incident, gather all evidence, establish whether the force used was justified and whether anyone was liable, she said.
"This is an incredibly difficult and tragic time for Mr Price's whānau who are grieving the loss of their loved one and I want them to know that they have our deepest sympathies."
Price's long history of offending was detailed during a successful High Court appeal of his sentence in November last year after he was earlier jailed for two years six months on charges including burglary, police chases, failing to stop, escaping custody and theft.
Justice Christine Grice found Price's sentence was "manifestly excessive" and should have included a discount for his youth.
His final sentence was 23 months in prison, making him eligible for home detention.
Price's offending spanned about a year from November 2020 to October 2021 - earning him the title of a "one-man crime wave" in the High Court decision.
After refusing to stop for police on November 5, 2020, Price drove towards oncoming traffic and almost hit schoolchildren when he approached a pedestrian crossing, forcing police to abandon their pursuit.
Later that day, Price crashed into two vehicles, one of which had young children inside. Police found 2.5 grams of methamphetamine inside his car, along with a knuckle duster.
Between May and July 2021, Price committed fuel theft on eight occasions.
Friends and loved ones of Price paid tribute to him yesterday on social media.
"Kaoss you were definitely one of a kind, someone that will never be forgotten, you've left your mark on many, taken from us way to soon but in our hearts you'll forever live on [sic]," one person wrote on Facebook.
Another wrote: "Rest in love my cuzzy."
Venables said Saturday's fatal shooting had also been "incredibly traumatic" for the officers involved.
"I am extremely grateful that [the officers] were not physically harmed."
Kaumātua had conducted a karakia on Sunday night before Price's body was removed from the scene, Venables said.
An autopsy would be done in the coming days. The scene examination was completed yesterday afternoon and the road had since reopened.
A police vehicle with visible damage on the driver's door was removed from the scene yesterday afternoon, along with a yellow Mitsubishi.
Formal statements had yet to be taken from the officers involved, limiting what Venables could say about what happened.
The officers were not at work. Venables said the priority was to support Price's whānau and police staff.
"We needed to make sure that everything was done right."