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Mana Whanonga Pirihimana Motuhake

Complaint about injuries suffered following a Police pursuit and use of force

3 August 2021

The Authority oversaw a Police investigation into a complaint alleging Police caused injuries to a passenger in a vehicle that failed to stop following a short pursuit in Mangere.

The complainant was a passenger in the fleeing vehicle, which crashed into a parked car. The air bags were deployed on impact. He resisted attempts by Police to get him out of the car, resulting in Police using OC spray and pulling him out.

There was a struggle to handcuff him. The officer placed a handcuff on one hand but the complainant broke free of the officer. Another officer came over to help but the complainant pushed him to the ground. The complainant has attempted to punch the officer with the loose handcuff.

The officer kicked out at the complainant once in a defensive manner to create distance between them, which connected with his head. This caused the complainant to go to ground and enabled officers to restrain and successfully handcuff him. The Authority's view is that a kick to the head would only be acceptable in instances where there is a threat of serious injury or death. In this instance, the officer narrowly avoided being hit around the head with metal handcuffs, which the Authority deems is a threat that was entirely credible of causing serious injury.

The complainant refers to sustaining a broken wrist and fractured ribs, however, while in Police custody he did not mention any injuries.

The complainant failed to engage with the Police investigation and attempts by the Authority to speak with him, thereby, providing no context as to how the injuries were received. The Police investigation concluded that reasonable force was used in response to the complainant's assaultive behaviour, but they were also unable to rule out the airbags causing the injuries. A debrief was completed with the officer regarding the risks associated with his use of force.

The Authority agrees with the Police findings and actions taken.

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