A witness to the fatal police shooting of an unarmed Taranaki man, Kaoss Price, last weekend says two shots were fired and he believes Price may have been detained by other means .
The man, who spoke to 1News on condition of anonymity, said he was one of the first witnesses at the scene when Price, 22, was shot dead by police.
According to police, at 9.30pm on Saturday April 16, a police unit carried out a vehicle stop on an associate of Price with whom he was driving in a convoy along SH3 between New Plymouth and Waitara. They say that while police were talking to the driver of the first vehicle, Price rammed into a stationary police cruiser at high speed.
READ MORE: Kaoss Price was unarmed when he was shot dead by police
In a statement on Thursday, Assistant Police Commissioner Sandra Venables said Price attempted to commandeer “a number of vehicles belonging to the public” after ramming the police cruiser, and that he was shot “as ‘he was trying to take control of one of these vehicles’. “.
The witness says Price did not try to get into his car and he did not see him try to get into someone else’s, but he says there were two fire. A police dog was also at the scene of the shooting.
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“The first shot when Kaoss ran past me, he was bent over like he was hurt, and when I think back it looked like he was running for his life,” the man said.
“Between five and ten seconds later, that’s when I hear the second shot.”
He says, based on what he saw, he thinks the police dog could have stopped Price, without the need for gunfire.
“The dog certainly could have done something to prevent that second blow. If Kaoss was hurt, he wouldn’t go far, you had to run up a hill, that dog was that fast, that dog would have had it.
He says that after the second shot he heard a female witness and a male screaming.
“She jumped out of her car… she was coming off her rocker, really angry. The next voice I heard was a male voice shouting “go, go, get out of here” very loudly. It was the voice that took everything away, after that I heard the girl start crying.
He says he spoke to an officer who asked to see his license but was surprised he was able to leave the scene without being questioned, despite being a key witness.
“I was the first person to come from Waitara to see what had happened…but then I was able to leave.”
The man said he was “terrified” by the incident and did not return home.
“I haven’t slept well, I think about it in my dreams, it’s still alive in my mind every day, there are certain parts I can’t get rid of at the moment.”
Price is the fifth person to be shot and killed by police in Taranaki since 2000. The witness says he is afraid of the police and has only been able to make an official statement in recent days with the help of a support person.
“All the shootings that happened in my home town of Waitara… I didn’t feel like I could trust the police too… I knew Adam Morehu, Snow [police shooting victim Allan Rowe]my family knew him through his league days, Steven Wallace, my cousins went to school with him, it happens too often in Waitara town.”
READ MORE: Investigation into fatal Taranaki police shooting continues
New Plymouth District Councilor Dinnie Moeahu also knew many of the victims, including Wallace, with whom he was good friends.
“This trauma that was experienced by the community, by the whānau, by the Township of Waitara, stays with each of us,” he said.
“Every time there’s a shooting, many of us who were close friends with Steven, many of us who understood the other shootings, it brings up historic feelings again and it’s hard to get over that when you’re trying to move on.”
He wants witnesses to come forward.
“There are big pieces of the puzzle that haven’t been delivered…if you’re not strong enough to reach out to the police, reach out to a family member, reach out to a community leader . Allow them to support you so that we can make sure the police have accurate accounts of what happened that night, and help this investigation be more transparent.”
Ngāneko Eriwata, who supports the Price whānau, says the loss has been hard on the family.
“The whānau are currently doing their best to stay together, it’s not easy,” she said.
She says the people of Taranaki want more fatal shootings to be avoided.
“The community is beyond wanting answers. They want change.
1News submitted the witnesses’ allegations to police, but Assistant Commissioner Venables declined to comment while the investigation continues.
“The process of hearing a large number of witnesses is underway. Anyone who witnessed the incident and has not yet spoken to police is urged to get in touch as soon as possible,” she said.
The Police Investigation Team can be contacted directly by email: [email protected]