Bellingham killer cop walks free

The police officer who shot dead Stephen Bellingham in Christchurch has been cleared of any criminal charges by an internal police investigation.

Bellingham allegedly attacked the officer with a claw hammer, though there are conflicting eye witness accounts as to whether Bellingham actually had a hammer at the point he advanced on the cop.

It is not the first time this cop has faced allegations of violence.

 The ‘Independent’ Police Complaints Authority (aka the police congratulatory authority – it is made up of a few retired judges, but their investigations of police are normally done by … police) investigation is ongoing.

The key problem here is these reviews rarely look at police actions leading up to the shootings other than to establish the locations of the people involved. There needs to be systemic understanding of the alternatives police have available to them (use of numbers, riot gear, pepper spray, police dogs, etc). This is not to downplay the difficulties police frequently face – just to highlight the growing police compliance culture; ‘obey or die’ (or get tasered, or …).

We need a royal commission of enquiry into police use of alternative methods of resolving violent incidents, especially focussed on how police get themselves in situations where they needlessly confront offenders in a manner that endangers themselves, justifying use of lethal force.

That way we will avoid more ‘cop kills civilian’ incidents like the Bellingham and Steven Wallace shootings (2 cops left 1 cop at the scene of a drunk window-smashing Wallace in Waitara to get guns, returned and shot and killed Wallace after he advanced on them) – see related “Taser fun for everyone” post.

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