Each day this week the Herald is profiling people who, through brave acts or extraordinary efforts, have saved a stranger from death or danger. Today's lifesaver is Constable Ben Turner, from Hamilton.

Protecting the public is what Constable Ben Turner is paid to do. But no one expected him to launch himself at an armed and dangerous offender during an attempted carjacking.

In October last year, Zeb Sonny Lee McCallion was jailed for 11 years on a raft of charges relating to offending he committed while on the run from police in 2014.

It was after sentencing that the details of Constable Turner's efforts were revealed.

In late August, McCallion, who had been on the run for a month, threatened an officer with a sawn-off shotgun. He told the policeman "f*** off pig, I've got a gun".


Hours later he used the gun to threaten a woman and her two young grandchildren during a home invasion in Kihikihi.

The next day McCallion met his match - Mr Turner.

He was supposed to be attending a court hearing but it was postponed at the last minute. So, he was at the Hamilton police station when the call came in about a possible sighting of McCallion in the city.

He joined the hunt. Another patrol car was pursuing McCallion, who happened to drive past the police car Mr Turner was in.

They followed him to Pak'n Save on Mill St.

"That's where Zeb hopped out of the car. I noticed he was carrying a firearm in his right hand," Mr Turner said.

McCallion started running away but turned his attention on an elderly woman next to her SUV at the supermarket's petrol pumps.

"That's the moment that I thought 'something's got to be done'," Mr Turner said.

He was not armed, but had his stab proof vest on and pepper spray. He launched himself at McCallion.

Senior Constable Blair Spalding rushed in to help and during the struggle McCallion's shotgun went off a number of times. McCallion was hit and Mr Spalding took two rounds in his leg.

Constable Ben Turner thought nothing of trying to disarm a gunman at the Mill St Pak'n Save in Hamilton. Photo / Christine Cornege
Constable Ben Turner thought nothing of trying to disarm a gunman at the Mill St Pak'n Save in Hamilton. Photo / Christine Cornege

A member of the public managed to kick the gun away, and McCallion was arrested.

Mr Turner explained why he did not hesitate taking on an armed man.

"There were a number of other officers behind me, there were police dogs, I knew they had my back," he said. "I wasn't going to run forward and do anything silly. I knew they had me covered. I just knew something had to be done. Someone had to deal to him, that lady was potentially going to get hurt and I didn't want that to happen ... I couldn't allow that to happen."

Mr Turner was awarded a New Zealand Police Association Bravery Award in October.

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