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Mana Whanonga Pirihimana Motuhake

Complaint of excessive force causing fractured elbow

6 January 2020

The Authority oversaw a Police investigation into a complaint that alleged that a Police officer in Waitemata District used excessive force when dealing with a man detained for the purposes of an evidential breath test in September 2018. The man sought medical attention after the incident, which found that he had a fractured elbow.

The Police investigation found that the officer instructed the man to stop using his phone while his rights and the evidential breath testing procedure were explained to him. The man objected to this and, according to the officer, became aggressive. The man was sitting in the back of a Police car at the time, and the officer decided that he would need to be handcuffed in order to safely transport him to the Police station for testing.

The officer took the man's phone from him and, with the assistance of his colleague, removed the man from the Police car, took him to the ground, and handcuffed him. The officers said the man continued to resist, and it appears most likely that his injury was sustained when the officers tried to move his right arm behind his back for handcuffing while on the ground. The officers said the man complained of pain, so they offered to take him to hospital, but he repeatedly refused.

The investigation found that the officer who instructed the man to stop using his phone unnecessarily escalated the situation and had no legal justification for doing so. This was addressed with him. The force subsequently used, however, was found to be justified due to the man becoming aggressive and resisting handcuffing.

The Authority's final review of the Police investigation agreed with the finding and the outcome.

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