Police shot father-to-be four times, firing 'upwards of 12' bullets

by Laura Tupou / 13 April, 2018

Jerrim Toms was shot by police at Easter. Photo / supplied

Family say they cannot understand why so many shots were fired.

The family of a man shot dead by police say detectives have told them at least 12 shots were fired.

Four of the bullets hit Jerrim Toms, including one in the back, his family have told RNZ.

A family member said officers told him there were "upwards of 12 shots" fired that night.

It's nearly two weeks since the 29-year-old was killed on State Highway 1 north of Puhoi and his family say they have more questions than answers.

Police said he was wielding a machete and was shot at close range, by two officers. But his family say they cannot understand why so many shots were fired.

Police have declined to answer questions about the specifics of the shooting, citing rules under the Coroner's Act and active investigations.

Family members say officers told them "upwards of 12 shots" were fired and four bullets hit his body - one to his left hand, two in his chest, and one to his lower back.

Jerrim Toms. Photo / Supplied 

Jerrim and his pregnant German partner were expecting their first child together when he was killed at Easter.

His father, Kevin Toms, said the family were told two officers, who arrived in the same car, fired the shots.

At least five police cars were at the scene, the family said.

"If [Jerrim] was rushing towards them and he was a direct threat to them he'd have to be real close," Kevin said.

"You don't miss two-thirds of your shots close up, so we can't tally that."

Kevin, a member of a pistol club, said police use Glock pistols which carry 17 rounds each.

The family have been trying to piece together their loved one's final moments. They said they do not know where he was hit first or why at least eight shots missed him.

They also want to know why tasers were not used, or if officers had tasers with them.

"He was running away, they'd spiked his car, he was frightened of them, he was out of there, he wasn't running towards them," Kevin said.

Police 'not able to discuss details'

Detective Inspector John Sutton, of Waitemata police, said in a statement that Jerrim had a machete at the time and he was shot while close to police.

They showed a photo of the weapon to the family who say it was a blunt ornamental knife Jerrim bought about seven years ago.

Mr Sutton said initial indications were that drugs "may be a factor", but they were waiting for final toxicology results.

"Exactly what happened and the events leading up to Jerrim's death are the focus of our investigation.

"We are not able to discuss details of how Jerrim died until we have consulted with the Coroner.

"As you can appreciate there are multiple investigations under way which are extremely complex and it would not be appropriate to respond to every single claim that is made until investigations are completed.

"We would however note that we have reviewed the 111 call and are confident in the wording of our statement on the day of Jerrim's death."

There are three investigations: one on the police response that night, one standard procedure homicide investigation, and an Independent Police Conduct Authority investigation.

'It all happened really quickly' - Natasha Toms

Jerrim Toms. Photo / supplied

"They're portraying him as being someone who was a criminal and he wasn't," Jerrim's sister Natasha said.

Five weeks earlier, he had been hospitalised for three days and treated for bipolar disorder. At the time he had a major fear of police and being jailed, his family said.

Natasha said he was not his normal self after he was discharged but he was on prescribed medication. The family have said they believe recreational drugs may also have influenced his mental state on the night of the shooting.

That night, Jerrim's mother heard "strange noises" at their home in Ōnehunga, Natasha said.

She called out to see if he was okay and he said he wasn't, she said.

He had relapsed, his family said.

Natasha said her mother arrived at her house and phoned mental health services about 2am.

"She didn't feel unsafe that he was going to hurt her. She just doesn't deal well when his mind doesn't work properly," she said.

The mental health acute team told them to phone the police to do a "welfare check".

Jerrim's mother called the police, who arrived just after 3am to an empty house. Police called back and the mother asked if there was a car at the house - there was not - so she gave police his registration number so they could look out for him, Natasha said.

"It all happened really quickly," she said.

The police released a statement saying they were called to a house in Ōnehunga about 3.10am on Saturday after a woman phoned to say a man was acting erratically and the woman feared for her safety.

It said police went to the house but no one was home, so they left.

About 20 minutes later a rural police officer who was going home after a shift saw a car with its hazard lights on pulled over on SH1 at Topuni, north of Wellsford. The officer pulled in behind the car to see if they needed any help, but the driver pulled away. The driver stopped and a man "wielding a machete" got out, went to the police car door and threatened the officer, police have said.

Police said the officer "quickly retreated and called for back up" as Jerrim sped off.

His car was later spiked north of Puhoi about 3.50am. A statement that day said officers got out of their car and the driver from the spiked car came towards them.

Shots were fired, and police administered first aid to Jerrim but he died at the scene, a police statement said.

After a restless night Natasha checked the news and saw an article about a 29-year-old man shot dead by police.

"Straight away I started just freaking out I couldn't go back to sleep and was just worried," she said.

Police phoned saying they wanted to come over to talk to her mother, she said.

"I said I've got a really bad feeling about this," Natasha told her sister.

Police officers told Natasha and her mother that Jerrim was shot dead, as well as offering their condolences.

"Mum got really upset straight away and I just went into complete shock," she said.

Police have organised a blessing of the site where Jerrim died, which the family plans on attending, they said.

This article was originally published by RNZ.

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