Thursday, 27 September 2007

'Shoot 'em' email puts shooting cop in jeopardy

I started a post the other day commenting on an email apparently doing the rounds of police inboxes, an email
that recommends officers shoot people armed with knives.

Under the heading "Why Cops Shoot Guys With Knives", the email contains stomach-churning photographs of a police officer with massive slashes to his back, chest and stomach.
The text of the email exhorts officers to shoot anyone with a weapon. "If you've got a knife, then you should die ... period."
The email has been forwarded to more than 30 officers and then to addresses that appear to be members of the public.
My comment was along the lines that while police have as much right to defend themselves as anybody (a right that should be recognised for all of us, including those who carry knives for that purpose), and that since police put themselves in harm's way on our behalf they should be expected to have to defend themselves more often, but given all that this email would only make things harder for good policemen.

It will makes things harder because, my post said, when or if a policeman does shoot someone in self-defence who comes at them with a knife, or club, or some other weapon -- as Constable John Abbott did with full justification in Waitara a few years back -- then any prosecution is going to use that email as a strong argument that any such force was pre-emptive, and any twelve men and women in a jury are likely to believe them.

It's a shame I never finished the post, because such a tragedy is already entering its First Act with the shooting overnight of a man wielding a hammer in a domestic dispute in Christchurch.
The policeman who fatally shot a man wielding a hammer last night feared for his life, police say...
Head of the Canterbury police, Superintendent Sandra Manderson said at a press conference this morning that the threats made to the policeman were "serious enough" for a shooting to take place.
"Obviously very serious indeed. Obviously (the man) was relatively close (to the police officer) because he feared for his life" ...
The officer would not be working for a while, but had not been stood down "at this stage".
Asked if she backed the actions of the officer, Ms Manderson said: "We are doing an investigation."
I really do feel for this policeman, because whoever wrote and sent out that email and whoever made it public have now made it almost impossible for him to ever get a fair hearing. Perhaps both author and publicist could contemplate that as he sits on suspension awaiting the outcome of that investigation.


  1. Wasn't the introduction of tasers supposed to prevent this sort of occurrence?

  2. Apparently tasers are not used if the offender is armed, and a hammer is being armed.


  3. P.S. I have been threatened with a hammer in the past, but i did not shoot them


  4. P.S.S. If I had I am sure I would have been charged with atleast Manslaughter


  5. P.S.S.S I am sure the pig won't be charged with nothing, they are above the law


  6. Aren't the Tasers only being trialed? i.e. not universally issued?

    Anon. Maria,
    perhaps you didn't have time to grab your gun cabinet keys, unlock your gun, remember where you stored the bolt, and then fiddle with the ammo. A hammer is a deadly weapon. One strike and you're out.

  7. Greg: Ok, so would this prove the trialling? Seems pretty simple to me. Shot vs stunned.

    Maria: If your first comment's correct, why aren't they used for disarming? Can't they? Someone?

  8. One bullet was needed , not four !!

    Yet another police assassination -have a party Sandra as you cracked the 21st victim dear .

    Not much changes in kiwiland . RIP .

  9. Wasn't the introduction of tasers supposed to prevent this sort of occurrence?

    The taser trial is over. Pending assesment of the results, the tasers have been withdrawn.

  10. And there's a good joke in the (Christchurch local mag) Avenues this month:

    Kiwi, Aussie, USA cops reaction to an life-threatening incident while out walking with their wife and female child:

    (about 15 different PC questions - like what about his whakapapa - you have to read the dead-tree copy).



    USA's cop's daughter: Nice grouping, Daddy. Were those the Winchester silver-tips?

  11. There hasn't been much info released yet.

    What I noticed: look how close to the police car the body is lying. To me, it looks like he got pretty close to the cop. Won't know for a while however.

    Of course you have wankers like John Campbell saying "Why did the officer fire four shots rather than stopping after the first two missed and as soon as the third one hit? Why didn't they use a baton/judo move/group hug first? etc etc.

    Journalists with no idea of the threat that melee weapons pose and the realities of violent confrontation.

  12. only four shots, when I was trained in the army it was aim for the biggest mass and keep pulling the trigger until the person is no longer a Dead.

    And D4J is only two hit him and two missed then it wasn't 4 shots it was two, if the fool didn't get the idea after the first two shots that he better comply then he deserved the next two.

  13. dad4justice,

    Ever shot a pistol?

    It's not as easy as the movies. From a standing position, with no stress, it's pretty difficult to get the shots on the paper, and impossible to know where they've landed as you shoot.

    Now imagine you've just come across town, priority one, to someone smashing up a flat and, who knows, perhaps their partner. You pull up in a semi-lit street in the evening and someone comes at you aggressively with a hammer. You draw your pistol.

    Thinking that a person can pause, adopt a good shooting stance, fire a shot, register if it has hit, judge the distance to the offender, wait to see if he is stopping, etc etc. Ain't gonna happen.

    One bullet? I'm surprised he didn't need more than four. Police are trained to "double tap" or fire two rounds at a time. The news reports that he was hit with two rounds. That could have been within half a second; it's hardly like he lay him down on the ground and shot him slowly four times (the police assassination bullshit)

    I'll put it this way, since you're a dad:

    This is from a news report:

    "The man just charged him with a hammer raised above his head with both hands...and ran at him really, really fast at the police officer."

    A man runs at your child with a hammer, and looks like he is going to hit them. You run in and hit him twice with a baseball bat. Should I be questioning why you didn't stop after the first hit to see if he was still attacking your child?

    And that first hit, did it really need to be that hard? You could have aimed for the inside of his elbow or wrist to disarm him...

  14. my money's (taxes) on those stopping people hitting the people I love and other good folk with hammers.

  15. OK. The moral of the story is:-

    Do not go out in public with a hammer and aggressivley smash things up.

    If the Police arrive and you happen to be smashing things with your hammer, then drop the hammer immediately and put your hands in the air. An even safer alternative would be to lie down on the ground.

    Whatever you do, don't advance on the Police. Stop and drop and await instructions.

    Simple enough.


  16. And yes, Tariana Turia, has predictably seized upon the email and used it in a PR:

  17. An otherwise conservative friend of mine said:

    In this latest case a man was wandering around at 8.30 in the evening with a hammer hitting the odd car. There were 3 policemen and it is said a dog unit. So the policeman directly challenges the guy and then shoots him dead with 4 shots. How much for police martial arts training or 3 against 1 or holding off until the dog arrives? How much is human life worth in NZ? Can we really say we don't have capital punishment in NZ? (for smashing windows and denting cars).

    Is it a comment on a badly managed rapid expansion of the police force which has seen illiterate recruits and recruits with criminal records taken on?

    We have morons in our police force. Most 16 year old boys could defend themselves from someone weilding a hammer.

  18. anon

    Think on it. Bet you couldn't defend yourself from a determined hammer weilding man. Your conservative mate is full of shit (that's conservatives for you, shit heads!), as are you. All it would take is for the hammer man to get one good blow in and you'd be in serious trouble. Ditto for a 16 year old boy. The conservative imbecile to whom you referred is talking without having the experience to know what he is talking about. So are you.

    The maniac with the hammer got what he got because he put his fate into the hands of another person. That person decided to deal with the particular problem as presented by shooting the maniac. While it is possible that the police officer acted in haste or even made an incorrect decision, that decision was his to make at the time and in that situation. It was his decision to make.

    I note that it was the maniac's decision to go on a violent hammer weilding rampage in the first place. You seem reticent on the nature of the maniac and his behaviour...

    It is easy to sit back in complete safety sipping a latte and dragging on a Havana while engaing in leisurely hypotheticals about what may have been possible for the Police officer or what may have occurred had he acted in a different manner. Perhaps he could have retreated and perhaps he or someone else could have died instead. All postulation and rationalisation. Ultimately froth.

    All the information is not available to you. You were not there. Nor was your conservative imbecile associate. An investigation is on-going. The results of that will emerge in the course of time. At that point it may be possible to judge the actions of the attending officers. Maybe they had alternatives they were not aware of, maybe they were unprofessional or maybe they were correct (wouldn't you just hate that).

    What is known as absolute fact was that the maniac was out-of-control. He was behaving in a manner that was going to get him into trouble. He was a threat to other people and their property. In the end he placed his fate in the hands of others. It was not a sound thing for him to have been doing. He earned the consequences of his decisions.


    When it comes to situations involving firearms, the NZ Police are careful. I suggest you contrast the actions of NZ Police when it comes to the use of firearms with those of the Australians, the USA, or, say, the Singaporians. Certainly the guys I met in Russia would not have hesitated to shoot the man down. Likely, once he was prone on the ground, they would have walked over and put in a few head shots just to make sure.

    If a maniac attacks my property I'd consider him fair game. Once someone starts destroying my property they are destroying that party of my life I invested in working to earn the property. A response is likely. Note that such a person is putting their future well-being into another party's hands. Mine.


  19. LGM,

    Great comment.

    It's amazing how many people are willing to dismiss a hammer as trivial.

    I wonder how many have EVER faced someone who was being violent? I mean real violent, not just having a tantrum.

    I for one am not willing to gamble a policeman's life on silly gladiator battles and fantasyland wishes. If you offer an immediate threat of deadly force against a person, it is justified for them to use deadly force to stop you.

    That is the only standard that should have to be applied. If you are responding to lethal force you should NOT have to prove a higher standard or play silly games.

  20. Craig

    Yes, I was surprised at how easily people dismissed the hamer as a serious weapon. Must have suited them to ignore it.

    At a dinner party the other night I got a little tired of the BS being spouted about this whole situation, so I went out to the shed and got a carpenter's hammer (to demonstrate just how effective a weapon they can be). After I smashed a few dinner plates and screamed some random abuse, I dared someone to come disarm me. No-one was game to try. I reckon the message got across loud and clear.

    The situation faced by the Policeman was not some game of postulations and rationalisations, it was real and the Police officer had to act. Dispatching the nutter to the great tinnie house in the sky certainly solved the problem. No more threat now.


  21. Re LGM's rude comments to my conservative friend:

    Ha! ha! I happen to have a letter of commendation from the police for chasing and cornering a seaman who had stolen a load of sheath knives from a sports shop. Luckily the chase attracted a patrol car and 2 policeman then jumped out and used some martial arts to disarm and arrest the guy. No pepper spray, no stun guns, no police dogs, no shooting the suspect dead.

    I guess we had some real police in those days instead of rapists and illiterates who are trigger happy.

    I suspect you are very young LGM, judging by your comments. Still at least the cop had time to find his pants before he shot the guy eh.

  22. Anon

    Your shit-head mate is probably telling you tall stories, at the least over-representing his heroic contribution (are you sure he isn't just a figment of your own imagination?).

    The two situations are not directly compariable. A sane man running away with stolen property is very different from an insane armed man bent on violence and destruction. Big difference.

    I'm 50 years young, fool. In earlier times I served as a ship's c/engineer and am well aware of the types of actions that some seamen would get up to from time to time. If one of my watch had taken possession of a knife and really wanted to harm you or your idiot mate, there would be no stopping him (save a gun). It only takes one strike (in the case of a hammer, one hit) and then you're in real trouble. The strike may even be the result of pure luck. In the end it doesn't matter. The fight is over and now the assailant can finish up what he started. He can cut you up real good (or in the case of a hammer, start bashing away at your head- generally there isn't too much to whack after the third or forth blow- most of the structure has turned to spongey-pud by then).


    There was an interesting interview with a martial arts expert, a few months back, where he was asked what he would do if faced with an armed man (knife, hammer, club etc.). He said he'd run if that was possible. He reckoned that there was high risk of getting seriously and permanently injured, possibly killed. Confronting such a man is not sensible. Best policy is to either escape or to weild a weapon yourself. And as with any fight, you'd better strike first.


    As I've previoulsy stated, the decision about what to do at the time was that particular officer's to make. He was faced with the situation and he acted as he thought best. Supposition and hypotheticals (such as those of your conservartive mate) after the fact are not the same as being there, in the situtaion, dealing with the actual context and acting.

    It may be that the officer made a mistake but that's for an investigation to determine, not some BS artist who got lucky once-upon-a-time.

    Your mate (if indeed he exists) is talking so much shit that he probably hasn't realised he needs to take his pants off BEFORE he sits down on the toilet.


  23. My friend's first name is Hugh, he lives in Chch and he is a coy director.

    You LGM are the rudest person I have ever come across on the internet.

    Whatever good things you have to say about libertarianism are lost in translation, because you alienate everyone who might otherwise be persuaded by your abuse.

  24. Well you should tell "Hugh" that he is taking rubbish, as are you.

    Fact is, you do not have experience dealing with an insane and violent man. Neither does your idiot conservative mate. You have no idea what that is like. I doubt you've even had the experience of dealing with a serious fight (particularly when there are weapons produced).

    In this particular case you certainly have no comprehension of what that Policeman had to face.

    Now, there is an investigation progressing. All the facts can be assembled and a proper analysis undertaken. Perhaps the Policeman was wrong or (wouldn't you hate this) perhaps he did exactly as he should have done in the circumstances with the knowledge he had. Convicting the Police in the absence of all the facts is wrong. Thankfully we don't have trial by media and conviction by public acclaimation in this country yet- no thanks to you.

    If shit-heads such as you are going to smear the the NZ Police and its members in the absence of all the evidence, then you can expect to be excoriated. You deserve it. Quit sooking about it.



1. Commenters are welcome and invited.
2. All comments are moderated. Off-topic grandstanding, spam, and gibberish will be ignored. Tu quoque will be moderated.
3. Read the post before you comment. Challenge facts, but don't simply ignore them.
4. Use a name. If it's important enough to say, it's important enough to put a name to.
5. Above all: Act with honour. Say what you mean, and mean what you say.