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Police 'precipitated' park shooting: IPCA

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 31/08/2016

David Cerven © NZ Police David Cerven Two police officers who shot dead a man in a central Auckland park last year escalated the situation by rashly running in with guns, the police watchdog has found.

David Cerven, a 21-year-old Slovakian man, was shot dead by police in Myers Park on August 2.

Police said at the time he was wanted for three armed robberies and called officers to the park before telling them he had a weapon - although a coroner later found he was unarmed.

The Independent Police Conduct Authority on Thursday released its report into the shooting, saying although two armed officers were justified in shooting, their decision to approach and challenge Mr Cerven while he was talking to unarmed police precipitated his actions.

The authority found Mr Cerven had called police to the park 25 minutes before he was shot and was being spoken to by four unarmed officers when armed police arrived.

"Two armed officers entered the park with their firearms ready to use, quickly approaching Mr Cerven and yelling at him to get on the ground," it said.

"Mr Cerven did not comply. Instead, he took his hands out of his pockets and appeared to clasp them together, making it look like he had a firearm in his hands. "

The two officers shot Mr Cerven eight times and he died at the scene.

While the authority accepted the officers believed Mr Cerven was armed and posed a threat, it found they did not assess the situation properly and the risk posed to the public.

They did not consider moving closer, taking over the negotiation, or finding out whether the Armed Offenders Squad was coming, it said.

It also said the two officers had also not told the communications centre they were going in, which didn't give other officers time to react.

One of the armed officers said they had been taken by surprise, expecting Mr Cerven to give up.

"I wasn't expecting him to do what he did with his hands and that," the officer told the authority.

Auckland police district commander Richard Chambers acknowledges communication could have been better on the night, but says the report shows police had acted properly.

"Our staff have to make split-second decisions under considerable pressure based on the often limited information they have available to them at the time," he said in a statement.

Police have made recommendations to improve communications systems as a result.

A coroner's inquest into the death is still pending.

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