24 Sep 2011

Police justified in shooting man armed with hammer - Coroner

6:14 am on 24 September 2011

The Coroner in Christchurch has found the actions of a police officer who shot and killed a man were justified.

Stephen Jon Bellingham, 37, was killed in Christchurch on 26 September, 2007, after advancing on the officer with a hammer.

Coroner Brandt Shortland found Mr Bellingham had taken a quantity of party pills and cannabis, and was smashing cars in a street.

Mr Shortland says the threatening manner in which Mr Bellingham advanced on the officer, made the decision to fire shots justified.

However, he says the police could have used better communication on the night.

Mr Bellingham's mother, Maria, says she would have liked the Coroner's report to investigate whether the type of bullet the police used and the way the officer aimed his shots, was acceptable.

Mrs Bellingham says she wonders whether the officer should have attempted to wound her son, rather than kill him.