8 Sep 2009

Police shooting of woman justified, inquiry finds

7:36 pm on 8 September 2009

A police officer who shot and killed a woman at the centre of an armed hostage drama in Whangarei was legally justified, a criminal investigation has concluded.

Lee Jane Mettam, 37, held a staff member at gunpoint at a shop in Reyburn Street in October last year.

Ms Mettam was described as a "P" (methamphetamine) addict and witnesses told investigators she was highly agitated.

Police appointed an independent investigation team from outside the area to look into the actions of the officer who shot her, referred to as Constable A.

Northland Police District Commander Superintendent Mike Rusbatch says the officer and other police were faced with a fast-moving and serious incident.

He says if Constable A had not taken action he would have been neglecting his duty, in that he would not have been protecting himself and other people in the vicinity.

The family of Ms Mettam accept the investigation's findings and do not blame the officer who shot her, saying he had a duty to protect the public and was simply doing his job.

The Independent Police Conduct Authority is still to complete its investigation and a Coroner's inquest into the death of Lee Jane Mettam will also be held.