By LEIGH VAN DER STOEP
Unarmed police officers were forced to throw stones at a dangerous fugitive who fired a pistol (handgun) at them.
Richard Alan Duthie (40 yrs. old) allegedly shot at two West Auckland police officers on Monday and was last night on the run. He has been wanted by police since May after failing to appear in the Rotorua High Court on drugs charges and is described as armed and dangerous.
On Monday morning, the officers stopped Duthie driving a blue Holden Commodore in Henderson. He gave the officers a false name and drove off. Police then pursued him into Swanson, where he lost control of the car and crashed into a ditch. After warning the officers he was armed, he opened fire on them.
Sources told the Sunday Star-Times the officers had no way to defend themselves. They (Police) resorted to picking up rocks and throwing them at the gunman. The officers went beyond the call of duty and should be commended for their bravery under such adverse conditions, one police source said.
It is understood the officers were “gutted” (devastated) about the incident. The shooting came less than a week after tasers were withdrawn from use at the end of a one-year police trial. Police Association president Greg O’Connor said while tasers would not have made a difference in this case, it demonstrated the dangers police were facing in the field. It was “ludicrous” to expect officers to come up against armed and dangerous criminals every day with no effective way of defending themselves or the public.
[New Zealand Police are generally un-armed in their duties as police officers, with the exception of “armed offender squads”, eg. S.W.A.T. or E.T.F. in North American lingo. —Editor–]
Before the end of the taser trial, at least one of the officers involved in the shooting would have been armed with a taser. “There are plenty of situations where it would be a knife … and a taser would certainly make all the difference. This is just an example of how ludicrous it is more and more people are prepared to have a go (confrontation) these days.”
He challenged anti-taser campaigners to spend a night shift with frontline officers who were facing dangerous offenders like Duthie.
New Zealand Police RECRUITING