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Mana Whanonga Pirihimana Motuhake

Use of OC spray during the detention of a mentally disordered person in Central District

16 October 2019

In July 2018, Police responded to calls from members of the public that a man was driving erratically. Attending officers found the man sitting in the driver's seat of his stationary car. Officers described the man as very agitated, and he did not respond when they tried to speak with him. They could not immobilise the car as it had a keyless ignition.

The man repeatedly refused to get out of the car when asked and officers tried to pull the man out. Due to increasing concerns about the man's behaviour, one of the officers used OC spray and the man was subsequently removed from the car and detained for a mental health assessment.

The Authority directed Police to investigate the use of OC spray. The Police investigation found that the officer was justified in using OC spray as the man actively resisted when officers tried to detain him, and he tried to restart the ignition when Police attempted to pull him from the car. Police immediately gave the man medical assistance after using the OC spray.

The Authority agrees with the Police finding that there was no misconduct or negligence in their actions.

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