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Mana Whanonga Pirihimana Motuhake

Use of force on a youth in the Northland District justified

26 July 2021

The Authority oversaw a Police investigation where a youth said that while he was being arrested an officer punched him in the back of his head while he was handcuffed. The youth also said the officer threw him to the ground and pepper sprayed him.

The Police investigation could not establish that the officer punched the youth. The officer denied punching him, and other officers present did not hear the youth call out that he had been punched. The other witnesses gave conflicting accounts. The youth did not have any visible injuries when he was taken into Police custody and did not complain about being punched to any staff. The investigation found that the youth resisted the attempt to place him into the Police car and he threatened to assault the arresting officer. He tried to turn around to face the officer and was placed onto the ground. The youth started to kick the officer to try and get up, he was told to stop but continued and again kicked the officer who then sprayed a single burst of pepper spray in self-defence. The officer could not get his colleagues to help him restrain the youth in a less violent manner as they were busy arresting another youth at that time.

The Police investigation found that the officer was justified in taking the youth to the ground to restrain him and using pepper spray in self-defence.

The Authority agrees with the findings of the Police investigation.

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