Police blocked aid for dying man

Widow Harjinder Kaur hopes the inquiry will prevent similar deaths

As Navtej Singh lay dying on the floor of his liquor store, his desperate wife and friends urged police and paramedics to come and treat him.

They waited and waited, with business partner Gurvinder Singh repeatedly telling 111 operators that Navtej had been shot and the robbers had left.

Sandeep Verma offered to take his injured friend to the hospital, but was told to wait by the police.

“It was really shocking. I told them he was bleeding, so they told me how to push down on his wound, so I did that,” Mr Verma told the Weekend Herald.

“I said ‘Why don’t you let me take my friend, in my car, to Middlemore Hospital?’ But they said don’t do that, your safety is a priority. But there was no one there, they were gone. It’s so frustrating, I don’t have any words.”

Navtej Singh waited for 37 minutes for medical treatment because the officer in charge of the scene was never directly told the robbers had fled.

The communication breakdown between the 111 centre and the police sergeant at the cordon has been pinpointed as the most significant factor in the “unjustified” delay in reaching Mr Singh, says the Independent Police Conduct Authority. Because he was unaware the shop was safe to enter, Officer A planned a “cautious and measured” response, which the IPCA said would have been justified if there was good reason to believe the gunmen were nearby.

“However, as the police had been informed that the offenders had left there was no requirement for the level of caution. Rather, the immediate need was to ensure that Mr Singh received medical attention,” said the IPCA.  Officer A told the authority that had he been fully aware of the facts, he would have entered the store sooner. “If someone had come to me directly saying he’s dying and we need to get in there, I would have gone in without a doubt.”

The IPCA said Officer A should not have assumed the gunmen were still at the scene and should have asked for an update on the location of the offenders and Mr Singh’s condition.  The IPCA also said the 111 shift commander should have actively supervised the incident and queried the tactical plan with Officer A, especially given the wait of more than 30 minutes.

IPCA chairwoman Justice Lowell Goddard, QC, said the 37-minute delay “could not be justified and was undesirable”.  She went so far as to say the delay was arguably a breach of the police duty of care – a comment that Deputy Commissioner Rob Pope has rejected.

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