Shangi-La shooting: Driver's behaviour was 'rash, erratic, impulsive'

The damaged Subaru Impreza being towed away.
PHOTO: The New Paper

The driver's death in last year's Shangri-La shooting case has been ruled "a lawful killing".

Delivering his findings yesterday in an inquiry into Mohamed Taufik Zahar's death, State Coroner Marvin Bay said the Gurkha contingent officer who delivered the shot that killed the 34-year-old driver was just doing his duty.

The incident happened at around 4.20am on May 31 last year.

That day, Taufik, a logistics mover, had driven a rented red Subaru (right) towards a vehicle check station (VCS) near the Shangri-La Hotel.

He was with his friends, Mohamed Ismail, 31, a cleaner, who was in the front passenger seat, and Muhammad Syahid Mohamed Yasin, 26, a kitchen helper, who sat in the rear.

The hotel was then hosting the three-day 14th Asian Security Summit for 227 delegates from 27 countries. Guests included defence ministers, defence officials and military chiefs from all around the world.

Because of the large number of VIPs, the Singapore Police Force had adopted a high level of security for the event as it could potentially be a prime target for terrorist attacks.

However, when Taufik drove into the area, he persisted in attempting to evade officers at the VCS and breached a concrete barrier.

He was eventually shot dead after he ignored repeated warnings to stop.

In court yesterday, Coroner Bay said after he died, Taufik was found with a "highly elevated" amount of methamphetamine, or Ice, and other drugs, including nimetazepam, or Erimin-5.

He added: "Methamphetamine users are prone to aggression and reckless acts that predispose them to self-harm.

"Mr Taufik's motive for evading the VCS was likely to avoid the consequences of being found to have consumed and be in possession of a quantity of various drugs."

He added that even though Taufik was not a terrorist, this could not be discerned from his "rash, erratic and impulsive" behaviour that morning.

Coroner Bay said: "He had turned a deaf ear to the clear and repeated instructions from police officers at the scene to stop the car.

"The officers had no inkling of the driver's intent, nor his ultimate destination."

POTENTIAL DANGER

Due to Taufik's behaviour, he said the officers had reasonable grounds to believe the Subaru could potentially be bearing vehicle-based improvised explosive devices.

Stressing there was no place for complacency, Coroner Bay pointed out that such devices had been used in the 2002 Bali bombings and the Marriott Hotel attack in Jakarta the following year.

Two Gurkha contingent officers fired shots at Taufik's car when he refused to obey orders.

One of the shots hit him and he was later found slumped in the driver's seat with a bullet wound at the back of his head. He was pronounced dead shortly before 5am that day.

His two passengers tried to escape but were arrested. They have been dealt with.

On June 15 last year, Mohamed was jailed for eight years and ordered to receive three strokes of the cane after pleading guilty to two counts of drug possession and one count of drug consumption.

About six months later, Syahid was sentenced to seven years' jail with three strokes of the cane.

He pleaded guilty to two counts of drugs possession, and one count each of drug consumption and abetment to perform a rash act.

About 10 of Taufik's family members were in court yesterday and they appeared calm when Coroner Bay delivered his findings.

Taufik's wife, Madam Nassida Nasir, 33, later told The New Paper she was struggling to make ends meet following her husband's death.

She explained that Taufik was the sole breadwinner for the family.

She said she is now living with her parents and is helping her mother at her food stall.

Her one-year-old daughter is too young to know what happened to her father.

She said: "I will have to find a way to explain what happened when she is older."

ashaffiq@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on April 23, 2016.
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