A New Zealand Police Officer Was Killed on the Job for the First Time in 11 Years

Prime Minister Jacinda Arden described the shooting as “devastating.”
June 19, 2020, 8:29am
nz police shooting afp
Police officers cordon off an area after a police officer was fatally shot in a residential neighborhood in Auckland on June 19, 2020. GREG BOWKER / AFP

An unarmed New Zealand police officer was shot to death on an Auckland street on Friday, becoming the first officer there to die in the line of duty in 11 years.

Police Commissioner Andrew Coster said two unarmed officers were conducting a routine traffic stop involving a car carrying two people when one of the passengers produced a rifle and opened fire at the two police officers.

In addition to the fatally shot officer, the second officer was sent to the hospital with a serious leg injury, and a bystander is being treated for minor injuries after being hit by the car as it fled.

Authorities have launched a massive search for the two men, and have closed down schools in the immediate area of the incident.

According to the New Zealand police website, the incident was the first fatal shooting of a police officer since May of 2009, when Senior Constable Len Snee was fatally wounded while carrying out a routine search warrant at a home in the city of Napier.

In fact, since 1890, just 32 police officers in the country have been killed while carrying out their police duties.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern called the shooting "devastating news," and offered condolences to the officer's family and colleagues, AFP reports.

"This [traffic stop] was the type of work that our officers undertake every day to keep the public safe," Coster told reporters. "At this stage, there is nothing to indicate that this job was going to be anything out of the ordinary."

New Zealand police officers do not normally carry guns, and the issue of whether officers should be armed has been a topic of debate in recent weeks. Last week, the police decided against introducing armed patrols, and Coster reported Friday’s shooting would not prompt the team to revisit the issue.

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