By Robin Martin of RNZ
A lawyer representing the whānau of a Taranaki man shot and killed by police says statements by police about the incident are insensitive.
Kaoss Price was shot after he rammed a police car on State Highway 3 between New Plymouth and Waitara on Saturday night.
The 22-year-old was not carrying a firearm.
Police say Price drove at speed into a stationary police car, shunting it off the road and disabling his own vehicle in the process.
They say he was fatally shot by officers while attempting to hijack a member of the public's car.
In a lengthy statement about the details of the incident, police revealed Price was unarmed and no firearms were recovered from the scene.
Justice advocate Julia Whaipooti said the nature and timing of the police statement couldn't have been worse.
"And that level of detail that the police have put in that public release while whānau are waiting to bury their boy.
"You know the whānau need to bury [him] need to grieve and at the same time the police statement seems more a reaction to the public response and not made with whānau in mind."
Whaipooti said regrettably, Price's death was not unique.
"This is not the first young Māori boy that has been killed by police. Unfortunately it's not just a statistic that's out of nowhere.
"We see the numbers for police killing young Māori and it is disproportionate, it is huge, it is whānau being taken away far too early by Crown and police action."
She said the issue was not about the poor behaviour of young Māori males.
Specialist firearms lawyer Nicholas Taylor told Midday Report he was not convinced there was an active threat when police shot Price dead.
"A car of course can be a weapon, however, it would appear from what's been released and the facts at the moment that he was trying to effect an escape, so getting into a car, taking a car and removing himself from the scene."
Taylor said police needed to be more willing to use non-lethal methods for defusing volatile situations.
"Be it tasers, be it pepper sprays, be it police dogs and even in a situation like this just potentially identifying someone and defusing the situation by going and collecting him in a day or so."
Former police negotiator Lance Burdett said even if Price appeared to be running away, officers could have been justified in shooting him.
"What the officer then has to make is an assessment of if the person getting into another car ... is it still a threat?
"Is it still a threat to the police? Getting into a car and coming back at them or are they going to be a threat to others when they drive away at speed? So it's an assessment you make at the time."
Burdett said that assessment would be based on the person's immediate past actions.
On the streets of New Plymouth, there were mixed views on whether the shooting was justified.
One young man thought perhaps there could've been another way to handle the situation.
"I feel like it could probably have been de-escalated."
A woman enjoying lunch with friends was still making her mind up.
"I can't see how you can say whether it's justified or not because we don't have all the facts yet."
A radio announcer knew what he thought.
"Absolutely. I thought it was justified, yes."
A visitor to town was more circumspect.
"We've only just found out that he wasn't armed which is a bit of a shocker, but I support our police and I trust in them, they're here to keep us safe."
There are three separate investigations under way into Price's death.
His body has been lying at the family home and his funeral is due to be held tomorrow.