On July 14, 2016, 35-year-old Maori Shargin Stephens was shot and killed by police officers in Rotorua, New Zealand.
He was released on bail and wore an electronic ankle bracelet. The police had to check if he was drinking alcohol. In the 36 days before the shooting, the police checked him 64 times, sometimes 4 times a day. Most of the inspections were carried out at night or late in the evening. On July 14, 2016, the police again came to check on Stephens at night. He left the house and broke the window of a police car. Officers opened fire on him, and he died from his injuries. Officers later said he was threatening them.
The Independent Police Conduct Authority (IPCA) decided that the shooting and frequent checks on Stephens at night were justified. In July 2021, the media published the results of a coronal investigation that revealed inconsistencies between the IPCA version and the testimony of police officers and witnesses. The new investigation concluded that frequent checks, especially night checks, were not justified. Moreover, the witness claims that Stephens wanted to scare off the police and escape, and not attack them.
In March 2022, the IPCA acknowledged that the frequent police checks were unreasonable and that Stephens may have become angry at the frequent checks and because the police kept waking him up at night, so he smashed the window of a police car. The investigation also found that 7 seconds of police body camera video was missing. In May 2022, it became known about violations during the interrogation of police officers: they were shown evidence even before the interrogation began. The Stephens family is pushing for a new investigation.
MASS MEDIA ABOUT THE CASE:
“But to check him 70 times over 38 days, sometimes multiple times at night, was oppressive. This is especially as police found no evidence of Mr Stephens not complying with these conditions,” the IPCA report said.
“I could see he was getting frustrated at all the police checks,” his partner Estelle later told police. “He had his home-D bracelet on and he thought that would be enough but the police kept checking. We would get checked day and night. It is hard to see the sense in that when he has his bracelet on. It seemed like it was a thing that any police gang going past Vaughan Road had to stop in.”
The initiative group has requested the clarification from Prime Minister of New Zealand Jacinda Ardern, Attorney-General David Parker and Minister of Police Poto Williams. The initiative group believes it is important to fight against police brutality and, if necessary, will provide legal and financial assistance to the family of the victim.