Legal Beagle by Graeme Edgeler

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Legal Beagle: Breaking News: Man Shot by Police; or the $600 tweet

17 Responses

  • Paul Campbell,

    Here in Dunedin we have a related case – where a potential suicide commingled with a large theft scandal within the city council and the Coroner’s Act has meant that public discussion of the city’s response to the scandal (for example in the online ODT) has been squashed – there are open questions about whether other people within the DCC were involved (some were asked to leave or left on their own), or benefited, and should have been prosecuted

    At one level it all stinks of a cover-up, but masquerading as the Coroner’s Act, who knows?

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2605 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes,

    So, if the cops shoot someone and the coroner suspects the victim may have had suicidal tendencies the whole thing is hushed up. I thought assisted suicide was illegal in this country so it would follow that the police should be charged?
    , yes?.
    There is this story from the 8th of this month...

    Tony Loveday, who owns the Skynet City Stop opposite McDonald's, said a woman who works for him tried to talk the gunman down.

    The woman, who does voluntary rehab work with prison services, was in the street with the man, Mr Loveday said.

    "He had a rifle in his hand. He kept going forward and back.

    "She was trying to talk him down. She said she had a good liaison with him. He was going to put the rifle down. She was only a metre away when he was shot dead.

    "She was pretty adamant he was going to give himself up. She didn't know him. She said he told her he was trying to get into the army and was rejected because of his police record."
    Witness Ugur Kokcu saw the woman talk to the gunman for a couple of minutes.
    The gunman was animated at times. The rifle was mostly by his side but when he raised it slightly, he was shot twice by police, Mr Kokcu said.
    Subway worker Nikki Hearfield said the gunman looked like he was in his late 20s."He wasn't holding the gun aggressively. It was just in his hand to the side."
    She heard police fire two shots.
    Superintendent Sam Hoyle said he could not comment at this stage on suggestions the gunman was being talked down.

    This aspect of the incident has been quietly forgotten.
    It appears that the guy had been granted a $3000 grant by Social Welfare to move to Christchurch to find work, he was unable to secure a job and as a result was charged with benefit fraud and had a warrant out for his arrest.
    This stinks.

    Peria • Since Dec 2006 • 5521 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to Steve Barnes,

    It appears that the guy had been granted a $3000 grant by Social Welfare to move to Christchurch to find work, he was unable to secure a job and as a result was charged with benefit fraud and had a warrant out for his arrest.

    That whole WINZ 'promotion' was an accident waiting to happen, one way or the other...
    He shouldn't have been in Chchch or given the money unless he had a WINZ approved job lined up - it was all just 'feelgood' lipservice stuff from the Govt.

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7886 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    There's a bit of a pattern here of NZ banning stuff:
    - this and other suicide incidents
    - Into the River
    - infringements of election rules
    - not to mention the unmentionable events in Northland

    I'm not convinced that having our free speech curtailed like this is justified by Bad Things that would happen (ok, maybe the last one is to protect the victims, but not to the degree claimed)

    Many things don't work well in the US, but the First Amendment does seem to - the place doesn't fall apart because people know who killed themselves, or because kids can read books, or make partisan tweets on election day. Even the UK doesn't have many of the proscriptions that we do (although it has others, like super-injunctions).

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • chris, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    No doubt you’ve caught up with this too. Who are all these people? Why are the heads of their industries coming out to bat for them and in turn tarring any number of prominent people in their industry as possible suspects? Is this suspect the same person as either of the suspects listed above? How about this one? Will this one be playing in the world cup? Could it be Sir Richie or Kevin Meleamu? Who knows. Weird place.

    But I was drunk m’lud.

    Mawkland • Since Jan 2010 • 1302 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie, in reply to chris,

    I was drunk m'lud.

    But being "from a good family" rates as a get out of jail free card.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4591 posts Report Reply

  • chris, in reply to Joe Wylie,

    He said it was a reminder that people driving alone late at night in areas with bars and hotels should keep their doors locked.

    That sounds strangely famliar.

    Mawkland • Since Jan 2010 • 1302 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    This is obviously ridiculous. The law should not automatically suppress the fact that police have shot and killed someone. Not only should it not automatically be suppressed, I’m not sure it should ever be suppressed. The death of someone at the hands of those exercising state power is an issue of the highest public importance.

    I totally agree with all of this. It's both impractical (we all knew within a few hours anyway), and not clear what kind of public interest it is in. The basic undisputed facts should be made known almost immediately. I can understand a law against claiming or speculating that it was suicide, but that's where the public interest ends, so far as I can see. If anything, the secrecy harms not just the public interest, but the police's interests too, because speculation of an unjustified killing is even more likely in the absence of official facts.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10631 posts Report Reply

  • simon g,

    It was obvious from the initial police press conference that he was unarmed. Even if we allow for the most unlikely circumstances (e.g. the deceased flinging a weapon a long way from his body just before he died), the scene investigation would have established the truth almost immediately. But the public were not told. Why?

    I think we all know why. Spin.

    For the avoidance of any doubt, I am not second-guessing the police actions in the park: it was dark, they had been told he was armed, and split-second decisions were made. Whether the shooting was justified is not for me to say, absent full details of how the events unfolded.

    But it is for me - for all of us as citizens - to comment on the subsequent withholding of information by the police, when that is done purely for public relations. In short, to serve the police, not us. Spin 101 says: an inquiry, released weeks later, has only a fraction of the impact of a revelation when the story is "hot". For a couple of days, David Cerven's tragic death was leading the news. Now, it is old news.

    He was a foreigner, he had mental health problems, he had committed crimes, and he's gone, so basically nobody in New Zealand will care. But we should.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1319 posts Report Reply

  • Jeremy Andrew,

    For use in spin-detangling: An Interactive Guide to Ambiguous Grammar

    Hamiltron - City of the F… • Since Nov 2006 • 900 posts Report Reply

  • Jarno van der Linden,

    But the suspicion is there, and it may be that should a similar event happen again, it would be illegal to tell New Zealanders that a plane has crashed, lest the manner of the pilot’s death be revealed.

    Or as a more common example, a suicide bombing. Although the more generic "bombing" could be used, it could also mean a significant difference in public response and policy making (should we be scared of the strange foreign man with the large coat, or that large package in the trashcan?).

    Is there some sort of "in the public interest" override that can be used as a defence against section 71?

    Nelson • Since Oct 2007 • 81 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler, in reply to Jarno van der Linden,

    Or as a more common example, a suicide bombing.

    That's a much better example. Stealing it from now on :-)

    Is there some sort of “in the public interest” override that can be used as a defence against section 71?

    Nope. Questions of the public interest are supposed to be resolved by the Coroner when deciding whether to give permission.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3202 posts Report Reply

  • Lyndon Hood,

    It is difficult to see a distinction that could clearly distinguish a death resulting from someone purposefully stepping in front of a train as self-inflicted, but allowing...

    Not completely sure: there's no human agency whatsoever that would stop a moving train in that kind of timeframe - this is quite distinct from having a high degree of confidence about what another person will do. But I'm getting to agree it carries enough similarity that it should be the same category for a lot of purposes (and hence the need for reform here). And all you other examples still apply.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1115 posts Report Reply

  • simon g,

    A man has been shot dead by police in Hamilton. It would be entirely wrong to make any judgement about the circumstances of his death, and I am absolutely not doing so here.

    I would note, however, that a gun has been found at the location, and this has been revealed today by police within hours of the incident.

    As I pointed out in my earlier comment, this is a stark contrast to the case of David Cerven, when the police spokesman refused to answer. Even many days after the shooting. By that time, the police knew he was unarmed, so the refusal to answer was deliberately withholding information.

    It is not acceptable for the police to offer only two possible responses: a) there was a weapon, or b) we cannot confirm. If the answer is c) there was no weapon, then that answer should be given. As soon as the fact is known.

    To repeat - the issue here is not the circumstances of the shooting. It is the "spin" that follows. It appears to be a deliberate policy, and it is wrong.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1319 posts Report Reply

  • simon g,

    So the report is out. Headline exonerates, but the details don’t:

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11702509

    TLDR: police got it tragically wrong, but IPCA can’t bring itself (himself) to say so, despite the evidence, because then there would be consequences. Shame.

    There is no Slovakian constituency in NZ, no media voices raised on David’s behalf, so nobody will be keeping this story going. It will be forgotten by tomorrow. It should not be.

    (ETA: fundamental point here - which was always apparent, and is now confirmed - is that there was NOT a risk to the public. The police arrived, and there was a perceived risk to them).

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1319 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    It's interesting that in the UK, a much scarier country with 15 times our population, there were a historically high four police shootings in the last 12 months (The long term average is around one a year).

    In NZ, there have been five.

    The UK police actually document publically how they manage firearms incidents - maybe NZ should take some lessons.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • simon g,

    Here is the media conference (edited extracts) by Supt. Chambers immediately after the shooting, a year ago:

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/national/news/video.cfm?c_id=1503075&gal_cid=1503075&gallery_id=152969

    It's worth noting the differences between the story then and now. Cerven is described as "an armed offender", which he was not. The AOS was not called. The fact that Cerven himself called the police was reported widely a year ago - it is being glossed over now. And as per my first comment on this thread, the police refused to say whether he was armed, simply because they knew (after the shooting) that he had not been. That violates the most basic principles of integrity and accountability.

    Apart from the story of one avoidable fatality, the focus should be on the policy currently followed by police. If the officers were acting in accordance with that policy, then it needs to be reviewed, before the next tragedy. (If they were not, there should be consequences).

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1319 posts Report Reply

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