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7 December 2017
The Independent Police Conduct Authority has found that a Police officer’s use of a ‘carotid hold’ while arresting a man in Tawa was disproportionate to the resistance being offered and amounted to excessive force.
A ‘carotid hold’ involves squeezing the sides of a person’s neck, temporarily cutting off blood flow to the person’s brain and causing him or her to lose consciousness for a short time. Police have removed the carotid hold from their approved tactical options because it is considered to be a high risk technique.
This incident occurred on 10 May 2016, when a woman called 111 to report that her partner had assaulted her. An officer arrived and told the man he was under arrest. When the man turned to flee, the officer used pepper spray but it had no effect. The officer chased the man and, in response to the man resisting arrest, punched him about the face and body and used the carotid hold manoeuvre.
On 28 October 2016, the man complained to the Authority that the officer had repeatedly punched him and “choked him out” until he lost consciousness. He also complained that three other officers punched him multiple times in the backseat of a Police car.
The Authority found that the officer was justified in arresting the man and using pepper spray against him. The Authority also determined that the officer’s decision to punch the man at the time of arrest was proportionate and justified.
However, the officer’s use of the carotid hold was not justified in the circumstances.
“Given the risks associated with the carotid hold, which the officer knew or ought to have known about, the Authority does not consider that the officer was justified in using it since the man’s behaviour did not pose a threat of grievous bodily harm or death” said Authority Chair, Judge Colin Doherty.
Additionally, the Authority found that Police did not use excessive force against the man in the backseat of the Police car, and that Police provided the man with appropriate medical attention following the arrest.