NZ Police: bullets fired = x
Don't usually rate TVNZ for their investigative work (resources seem so often to be devoted to mainly sensationalist and trivial matters) or their ability to criticise the NZ Police - perhaps that is unfair on both counts. Last night's Close Up show on the police shooting and killing of a teenager last year was good journalism and even if the walrus went easy on the NZ Police spokesman it was still a good interview.
A year on from the fatal police shooting of a teenager outside of Napier, police say they have almost wrapped up their investigation into the matter.
Lachan Kelly-Tumarae, 19, was shot after police said he fired a shotgun in Fernhill, about 18 kilometres south-west of Napier.
But his family are demanding answers after his clothes were returned with what they say seemed to be 13 bulletholes - seven in his trousers, five in his t-shirt and one in his shoe.
The officer in charge of the investigation, Detective Superintendent Andy Lovelock, has admitted he got his facts wrong during an interview on TV ONE's Close Up last night, and has spoken again to ONE News to set the record straight.
The most astounding revelation was when the spokesman refused to say how many bullets were fired - just (if you can forgive the expression) point blank refused to answer. He said it was a secret - they wouldn't be telling. He mumbled something about it coming out in a different forum!? Really. Gob-smacking. Like we are in a police state, but everyone is just too polite to mention it.
They shoot someone to death on the street, it's now a year on, and the NZ Police refuse to say how many bullets they fired. Unbelievable: the secrecy and the arrogance behind this cover up. The clothing shown on TV was, without exaggeration, simply riddled with holes.
Big chunks of the t-shirt were cut away. The spokesman said they had been retained by forensics. Really? So it wasn't to get rid of all the other bullet holes? Say it ain't so. If it is subject to forensic examination as he claims then all of that material will be available - let's see it then. Forensics or fabrication?
When asked about the bulletholes last night, Lovelock said: "There is one bullet hole in the clothing which is linked to a shot that hit Lachan in the abdomen, and that's the only one that is linked to a bullet penetration."
However, speaking today he said there are at least four holes in Tumarae's clothing associated with bullet wounds.
"There's a second shot that hit Lachan in the leg," he said. "The bullet passed through the leg and into his other leg, so in terms of that one bullet itself there's three holes in clothing.
"Now the family are aware of that particular shot, as they are in terms of the abdominal shot. Those two shots collectively are the cause fo Lachan's death."
And here we go with the old story changeroo. Nek minit different story. Credibility where art thou?
Like most fatal shooting incidents the NZ Police initially make up a story to present themselves in the best possible light - before they have established the facts or debriefed their own members responsible they will come out with a phony holding story for the media.
And as it always turns out the NZ Police media spin is nothing but a lie because they come out with different versions of events as the days roll by and the questions mount. As defendants and as witnesses the NZ Police would be considered unreliable at best. The number of rounds fired changes, the sequence of events change, the number of officers involved and what they were doing changes, the descriptions change, and the claimed facts lurch from the unsubstantiated to the untenable. Eventually when every officer has had time to compare notes and reherse their testimony - a process taking months - the cops will finally go public with their version. It isn't good enough and the "independent" police complaints authority is an under-resourced rubber stamp that lets it happen by being unable to adequately hold them to account.
Lovelock has also admitted Tumarae had not fired at police before he was shot, but said he was armed with a shotgun and had threatened the officers.
"When he alighted from the car the firearm was loaded and he had a bandolier of ammunition slung around his body," he said.
"There were two boxes of cartridges in the car and he presented his firearm immediately at police that were close to him, and in turn at the police officer who was also nearby and later discharged his police Glock. The result was Lachan ultimately died from firearm injuries caused by police."
Forensic evidence revealed Tumarae only fired his weapon while he was still in the car, which his family says left a hole in the passenger side foot well.
But police have implied the officer acted in defence.
"Implied" because the story is dodgy as and must still run the gauntlet of the various reviews and possibly a private prosecution. Did he "present the firearm" in a threatening way to the officers? Was it loaded?
Lovelock would not say how many times the officer who killed Tumarae fired his Glock, "because that's a matter we need to keep for later in the investigation".
Shhh, it's a secret. Is that what we expect and accept from these government-sanctioned killers?
If they refuse to release that basic information then what possible credibility does the rest of what they say have?