A private prosecution for murder has been laid against the police officer who killed Steven Wallace.

The prosecution against Constable A had been laid in the New Plymouth District Court, Acting Commissioner of Police Steve Long said in a statement released this afternoon.

"As protection for himself, Constable A will not be undertaking public duties until the legal action instituted by James Wallace, is dealt with. At present he is on leave," Mr Long said.

"While police again extend our sympathies to the Wallace family for the loss of Steven, he was shot in self defence by an officer carrying out his lawful duties."

Twenty-three-year-old Mr Wallace was shot dead by Constable A in the main street of Waitara early on April 30 last year.

The constable who fired the four shots was called out after Mr Wallace, armed with a softball bat and golf club, was seen smashing windows in the Taranaki town.

Mr Wallace, a top local sportsman and a lapsed Victoria University architecture student, had embarked on a 30-minute vandalism spree in which more than 100 windows were broken.

A police report of the investigation into the death, released in August, 2001 concluded the constable acted in self-defence.

An inquest and Police Complaints Authority investigation into the death have yet to be heard.

In April this year, Mr Wallace's mother, Raewyn, said a prosecution was necessary for the family to move forward.

"All I've ever wanted is for them to go up on to the stand like we would be. I have to be answerable too, don't I?

"I don't want this to happen to anyone else in New Zealand, ever, I don't want them to go through what I've been through," said Mrs Wallace.