Key Points:

In the fullness of time, after a murder trial and long after Navtej Singh's death has faded in public minds, a report from the Independent Police Complaints Authority will no doubt unravel why the police hung back beyond a cordon while the liquor store owner lay dying from a gunshot.

Hopefully it will explain why ambulance officers were also kept from tending to Mr Singh and why the murder scene was allowed to be contaminated by up to a dozen citizens who walked into the store while the emergency services sat tight.

The new authority, under Justice Lowell Goddard, promises to be a more exacting inquirer than its predecessors. It may not yet have received a complaint over the Singh case but even the former police minister and Manurewa MP George Hawkins is so puzzled by what occurred that he is working with the community on the case.

Mr Hawkins is unsatisfied with police explanations for the delay in entering the crime scene and allowing medical care to reach Mr Singh. He is bristling at a meeting with the police hierarchy in which he was reportedly told that police would probably do the same again in the circumstances. He challenges them to review the case scrupulously but when Mr Hawkins, a booster of the police for many years, publicly criticises their actions it is clear that something is very wrong.

People do not need a police complaints report to know that. They know the series of explanations from the police - first they needed to arm their patrols before dispatching them, second they were following police safe assembly point protocols and third they had to be certain the armed villain was not a continuing threat at the scene - are flawed.

Citizens know that despite our force being "unarmed", night police patrols in districts such as Counties Manukau regularly carry, undeclared, firearms for the very reason that to respond to an armed crime requires immediate firepower.

People also know it is all very well to follow protocols but the New Zealand police have a proud record of common sense over-riding bureaucratic impediments when a life is at risk. Many times the police have entered a scene, acted and won praise for their bravery and decisiveness.

And people know Mr Singh died in an armed robbery. It is hard to recall a recorded instance of an armed robber in modern times having committed the crime and then remained at the scene.

This was no hostage drama. It was not a Columbine High-type incident of heavily armed killers stalking a scene taking more lives.

How do we know? The business partner, family and customers of Mr Singh have told us so: they were there after the shooter had departed. They stood in the store or the carpark outside, with the police helicopter watching them from above, telling the police what had occurred. More than 10 people milled about and at least five made calls on their cellphones to seek help.

What can explain this lapse? The police have said it was some minutes before it became clear that someone had, indeed, been shot, and there have been intimations of difficulties in understanding some of the distressed emergency calls.

The current Police Minister Annette King advises patience in seeking the full answers, remarking that some things only become clear with more time and formal inquiry. Fair enough. Yet the obvious is hard to ignore, particularly after the body-in-the-car-boot affair in the case of the murder of "Pumpkin's" mother last year.

Stringent application of rules, an absence of flexibility and initiative and then an inability to see why the public is troubled are common to both cases. In the first case, the woman was long dead. In this one, who knows what ambulance officers might have achieved for Mr Singh?