At about 2am on 8 April 2020, a man suffered a facial fracture during his arrest from a residential address in Hastings. The man was in breach of his Court imposed bail conditions and was subsequently charged with resisting arrest. Police made the Authority aware of the incident on 29 April 2020, and on 12 May 2020 the injured man complained to the Authority. He stated that he sustained a fractured skull during his interaction with Police and had undergone corrective surgery. The injury was in fact a fracture to the zygomatic arch, or cheek bone.
The Authority referred the matter back to Police and directed that an investigation into the incident be completed under its oversight.
The man’s charge of resisting arrest was dismissed in June 2021 following a hearing at Hastings District Court. The presiding Judge considered that it was reasonably possible that the man’s actions were in response to the force applied by Police, which caused pain and discomfort, and that he had no intention to resist arrest.
The Police investigation into the conduct of the attending officers concluded that there was sufficient evidence to support a charge of assault against the officer who had knelt on the man’s face during his arrest. Police deemed the officer’s application of force to the man’s head to be unwarranted and excessive.
The officer concerned resigned from Police prior to a charging decision being made. He was convicted of assault following a trial by judge alone at Hastings District Court in February 2023. No employment sanction was imposed due to the officer’s employment status.
The Authority agrees with the outcome of the Police investigation, which also questioned whether it was reasonable for officers to visit the address during the early hours of 8 April 2020, as there was no urgency to arrest the man.
Additionally, the Authority found that Police had no lawful grounds to enter the address to arrest the man. There was no warrant to enter the address and there was no power to enter the address without a warrant. The Authority is satisfied that the occupier did not give true, informed consent prior to Police entering the property to make the arrest.