The police officer who shot and killed Waitara man Steven Wallace is back on front-line duties - and armed.

This is the first photograph of Senior Constable Keith Abbott since he returned to the front line after Mr Wallace's death in April 2000.

The Herald cannot reveal where he is working, but the former armed offenders squad officer is now in a role that requires him to carry a weapon while on duty - a firearm which is clearly visible on his belt.

Mr Wallace died after Mr Abbott fired a pistol at him. Mr Wallace had smashed windows and a police car with a baseball bat and a golf club. He also threatened to hit Mr Abbott.

Mr Wallace's family brought a private murder prosecution against Mr Abbott but he was acquitted after a trial in the High Court at Wellington.

Police cleared him to return to work and the Independent Police Complaints Authority found the killing to be justified.

Mr Abbott and his family moved from Waitara and he has been in his new role since October 2000.

"He expressed an interest in working [at the location] and was transferred there by the then commissioner of police," a police spokesman said.

Mr Abbott did not want to comment yesterday, but his acting district commander backed him completely.

"His service has been exemplary and he has the full trust and confidence of the district," he said.

Mr Wallace's death was not the first shooting Mr Abbott was involved in. In 1991 he fired four shots during a shoot-out between robbers and the armed offenders squad at a New Plymouth bank.

During the subsequent court case, Mr Abbott described the ordeal as a "horrendously mind-shattering experience" and said he would shoot to kill if caught in a similar situation in the future.