21 August 2014 - A report released today by the Independent Police Conduct Authority has found that a Nelson Police dog handler was justified in releasing his dog to apprehend Kyle McArtney as the officer reasonably suspected he was an offender.
As a result of this action, Mr McArtney, an innocent party, was subsequently bitten by the Police dog and received significant injuries.
In releasing the report, Independent Police Conduct Authority Chair, Judge Sir David Carruthers said that this was a regrettable incident and was a case of Mr McArtney being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
“The Authority acknowledges that this incident was traumatic for Mr McArtney, his friends and family and has caused him on-going discomfort and inconvenience,” Sir David said.
Around 11pm on Sunday 17 November 2013 Police were called to a burglary at a Hathaway Court address. A Police dog handler arrived at the scene and after establishing that the offender had fled the property the officer and his Police dog tracked the offender to a nearby carpark. The officer heard a vehicle entering the carpark and noticed that the vehicle’s headlights were off. He then saw a man, who he suspected was the offender, running from the area around the vehicle. The man was in fact Mr McArtney.
The officer shouted for Mr McArtney to stop or otherwise he would release the Police dog. Mr McArtney, who was approximately 40 metres away from the officer, continued to move away. The officer released his dog and then saw Mr McArtney stop and put his hands up. By this time, though, it was too late and the Police dog was committed to its target. Mr McArtney fell to the ground wrestling with the dog, ignoring the officer’s instructions to stop fighting with the dog. Finally, after about 30 seconds, the officer was able to remove the dog from Mr McArtney’s leg. He then called for assistance and for an ambulance.
As a result of the dog bite Mr McArtney sustained multiple wounds on his lower left leg and thigh which required 16 stitches.
“The Authority found that the officer’s belief that Mr McArtney was an offender attempting to escape arrest, although incorrect, was reasonable in the circumstances,” Sir David said.
“Given this belief, releasing the dog to prevent Mr McArtney from escaping was the only tactical option available to the officer in the circumstances.
“Although the Authority found the officer had control over his dog at all times during the incident the Authority recognises the regrettable nature of the injuries sustained by Mr McArtney as a result,” Sir David said.