A police response to an aggravated burglary in New Plymouth in which a man was fatally shot in the back has been labelled "unplanned and uncoordinated" by the Independent Police Conduct Authority.
During the response, an armed man was Tasered, then shot in the back, before being punched and beaten with a police torch. He later died.
The IPCA report found the police officer who fatally shot Adam Morehu was justified in doing so because he believed Morehu was armed and feared for the safety of himself and other officers.
However, the report criticised the actions of a number of other officers in the period immediately preceding the shooting, attributing the failings to inadequacies in the command and control of the incident.
The incident occurred in the early hours of Saturday, June 8, 2013 when police were called to a burglary at the New Plymouth Golf Club.
A police dog handler was the first to respond about 4am and after confirming the break-in, he used his police dog to track the offenders.
The two offenders, later identified as Morehu and Kevin Bishell, were soon located by the officer, who informed the police communications centre that they were on a motorbike on the golf course.
The dog handler then released his dog and while subsequently attempting to subdue both men, he was fired upon by Morehu.
The officer then retreated with Bishell and his dog.
Another officer arrived at the golf course shortly after and, following an attempt to confront Morehu, he also retreated.
Further officers then began arriving at the scene. However, there was limited radio communication and no overall command and control of the officers on the ground, the report stated.
Eventually, four officers converged on Mr Morehu in order to confront him. One of the officers was armed with a firearm and two others with Tasers.
They appealed to Mr Morehu to drop his gun and Tasered him when he failed to do so.
At the same time, an officer on a bank above Morehu approached the scene and, fearing for the safety of his fellow officers, fired his Glock pistol, hitting Morehu.
Morehu then fell to the ground, but believing he was still resisting arrest, he was punched by one officer and hit in the head four times by another officer with a police torch before being successfully handcuffed.
A wound was later found on Morehu's lower back. He became unresponsive and stopped breathing a short time later.
Police, then paramedics continued CPR until paramedics determined that further resuscitation attempts were futile.
Morehu was pronounced dead by paramedics at 5.07am.
Bishell was transported to New Plymouth Police station and was later convicted of aggravated robbery and burglary charges.
Independent Police Conduct Authority chairman Judge Sir David Carruthers said none of the general duties officers involved had previous experience or substantial training in dealing with an armed offender.
"The officers were faced with an active shooter, in an open area, in a semi-rural location, with negligible lighting and minimal information about potential co-offenders and the status of one of their colleagues," Sir David said.
Faced with an active shooter, the officers felt compelled to act and were justified in arming themselves, the report found.
"However, the Authority found the actions of the officers involved were unplanned and uncoordinated," Sir David said.
"The officers failed to communicate effectively with each other, and they entered a dangerous situation at risk of being injured without properly arming themselves or wearing their ballistic body armour.
"Poor communication and a lack of command and control during this incident contributed to the events that unfolded.
"There was no effective coordination by the communications centre nor any leadership in the field.
"This impacted on the effectiveness of the police response to the incident and resulted in the officers involved making decisions that put themselves and their colleagues at unnecessary risk of harm."
Police were currently conducting employment investigations into five of the officers involved in the incident.
Police have released a statement saying they accept the IPCA report.
"This was an extremely fast-moving, challenging and complex event, which as the authority has noted, even under ideal conditions would have been highly volatile and stressful for anyone responding," assistant police commissioner Allan Boreham said.
"Staff on the night were faced with a very difficult situation, operating in darkness and with minimal information, while attempting to contain a number of possible unknown offenders."
Morehu was armed, dangerous and mobile, and refused to comply with officers appealing for him to surrender, Mr Boreham said.
"Sadly, despite the officers' efforts to resolve the situation peacefully, and after other tactical options had failed, Mr Morehu put them in a position where they feared for their lives, and ultimately had no choice but to resort to firearms to protect themselves and others."
Although the officers involved acted courageously and with the best intentions, police accepted the authority's view that there were a number of failings in relation to communication, coordination and command of the incident, Mr Boreham said.
"In response, we have taken steps to address these issues at both an individual and organisational level.
"This has for example included further training for the relevant district staff involved in the incident, and extra training for communications centre staff to better support the management of critical incidents.
"While we are extremely thankful no-one else was hurt during this incident, we are saddened that it had to end in tragedy and our thoughts are with Mr Morehu's whanau, who we have continued to keep updated throughout the investigative process."
The employment investigations into the actions of the five officers involved were being finalised, and any issues which arose would be addressed, Mr Boreham said.