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Home / Outcomes / 2022 Summaries of Police Investigations

Police officers justified in using force to arrest a man following a public disorder event in Counties Manukau district

31 May 2022

The Authority oversaw a Police investigation where two officers used force to arrest a man who tried to break through a Police skirmish line.

A skirmish line is a tactic Police use in public disorder events where officers disperse a crowd by walking at the crowd in a single line, telling them to leave. Police set up the skirmish line to move people out of a carpark after two rival gangs started fighting. The man refused to move along and tried to break through the skirmish line twice. The man was arrested and grabbed onto an officer’s safety vest and pulled the officer to him, ripping the vest. The officer forced his open hand between the man’s arm and chest to release his grip.

Two officers moved the man behind the skirmish line, where he continued resisting the attempt to arrest him. All three fell against a retaining wall and the man grabbed hold of an officer’s leg and refused to let go of it. The officer feared the man was going to grab his groin area and called out for help. Another officer delivered several open-palm strikes to the man’s arms and chest to get him to release his grip. The man eventually released the officer’s leg, and he was handcuffed. The investigation found that the officer failed to report his use of force as required by Police policy and this was addressed by Police.

The man told the Authority that he was punched in the face by the arresting officers. The Police investigation looked at cell phone video footage of the man’s arrest and spoke to all known witnesses but could find no evidence to corroborate the man’s complaint. The investigation found that the force used by both officers was justified in the circumstances.

The Authority agrees with the findings of the Police investigation.

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