Who remembers Steven Wallace?
Who remembers Steven Wallace?
18 January 2001
Remember Steven Wallace - the young man killed by a police officer in Waitara on 30 April 2000 ?
We have today contacted the Police Complaints Authority to ask yet again about the progress of their inquiry into the police shooting. They say that their inquiry and subsequent report cannot be completed until all relevant court proceedings have been concluded; if such proceedings are to take place, information may be revealed which could have a bearing on the PCA inquiry. Similarly, the Coroner’s Report cannot be released until all court proceedings are finished; and the PCA report cannot be finalised until the Coroner’s Report has been done. Further, according to the PCA, because Steve’s whänau have not yet made a decision on whether or not their legal counsel will initiate criminal proceedings in respect of Steven’s death, neither the Coroner nor PCA Reports can proceed until that decision has been made.
It is grossly unfair that the burden of progress in this matter is being portrayed as contingent on action by Steven’s whänau. The restrictive Act which governs the PCA’s activities does put the PCA in an inferior position in relation to the courts when a matter under PCA investigation is also the possible subject of criminal proceedings. However, a PCA inquiry does not necessarily need to wait on a Coroner’s Report - the role of the PCA is to investigate whether or not the police actions which lead to Steven’s death were unlawful; not to determine the manner of death which is undisputed in this instance.
It is now more than eight and a half months since Steven was killed - and we are still waiting for answers to the questions raised by the shooting, and for some kind of justice for Steven’s family and friends.
This ongoing saga demonstrates yet again the total inadequacy of the PCA as a police oversight body. You may recall our article on the government’s promised PCA Review (PMA newsletter, September 2000) - the report of that Review was supposed to have gone to Phil Goff as Minister of Justice by 31 October 2000. According to Phil Goff’s office, he did receive the report just prior to Christmas but has not yet had a chance to do anything, such as “consult with his Cabinet colleagues”, about it. Phil Goff does not seem to share our sense of urgency about ensuring there is proper independent oversight of the police force so that those who have been harmed by police actions receive justice, promptly delivered, rather than being left for months with their loss and grief unresolved.
We remember Steven Wallace, do you?
What you can do about this
1) Continue to voice your concerns: the most crucial thing you can do at this time is to continue to raise your concerns about Steven’s death, about the lack of resolution and justice, and about the serious inadequacies of the Police Complaints Authority. You can also continue to demand an independent enquiry into the shooting. Raise these issues with your local MP, or with list MPs who live in your area; write to the politicians and mass media listed in the contact details below.
If you need a reminder of some of the questions raised by Steven’s death, and the deficiencies of the PCA, you can check out the following:
And for more information, watch the documentary by Moana Sinclair and Kim Webby about the shooting which will be shown in the Waka Huia slot, 10am, Sunday morning on TV1, probably on 11 February - to be confirmed.
2) Continue to support Steven’s family - send them a note of sympathy and support, let them know that you have not forgotten Steven and that they are not alone with their grief and longing for justice. Post to the Wallace Whänau, 80 Broadway, Waitara 4320.
3) Support the Steven Wallace Independent Enquiry Fund - the fund was established to help with legal costs and expenses incurred by Steven’s family (including those arising from their private independent investigation into the police actions which resulted in Steven’s death), and to campaign for possible changes to the law and to police procedures.
Details of how you can make a donation to the Fund are available on this page.
"This is not just a Waitara tragedy, it was a national tragedy and one we must never allow to occur again." (from the Wallace Whänau Committee statement, June 2000)