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Mana Whanonga Pirihimana Motuhake

Allegations of Assault and failure to enable access medical and legal support - Waikato

7 July 2020

The Authority oversaw a Police investigation into a complaint by a man who alleged he was assaulted by a police officer at the time of his arrest and when he was being transported to the Police Station. He also said he was denied the opportunity to make a statement, speak to a lawyer and see a doctor.

On the morning of 29 September 2018 police went to a hotel and arrested the complainant for threatening a hotel guest with a knife. During the arrest the complainant resisted, and police officers used force to effect the arrest.

While being transported to the local Police Station, a police officer sitting in the back of the patrol car with the complainant, used force to control the complainant. During the journey to the Police Station the complainant continually struggled, to unfasten his seat belt, made several attempts to kick the police officer driving the patrol car, threatened to make the car crash and kill them all, and attempted to headbutt the police officer sitting in the rear of the patrol car with him. At one point in the ongoing struggle the police officer's taser was dislodged onto the floor of the patrol car.

When they arrived at the Hamilton Police Station custody suite the complainant continued his threatening, aggressive and assaultive behaviour towards officers. He punched the cell wall and kicked the cell door. He was repeatedly told that no legal or medical assistance would be provided until his behaviour moderated to a level where it was safe enough for officers to remove him from the cell. The requested assistance was later provided.

The senior custody officer on duty considered that the risk to staff and any other person meeting the complainant, outweighed the immediate needs requested by the complainant.

A police investigation established there was insufficient evidence to substantiate the allegations of the assault. The investigation established that force used by the officer was to effect the arrest and to overcome the resistance, and such force was reasonable and proportionate.

An employment investigation established that the officer against whom the assault complaints were made, should have provided two reports. One relates to the use of force and the other to dislodgement of the taser from his duty belt.

The Authority reviewed the Police investigation and is satisfied with the outcome.

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