13 November 2014 - A report released today by the Independent Police Conduct Authority has found an Upper Hutt Police officer was justified in using his Police dog to apprehend an offender believed to be involved in a burglary.
In releasing the report Independent Police Conduct Authority Chair, Judge Sir David Carruthers said the Authority found the officer involved had control of his dog at all times during the incident.
At around 1:10am on 5 June 2014 Police were called to the Brown Owl shops in Akatarawa Road, Upper Hutt after reports of an attempted burglary. Soon after Police arrived two people were seen running away from the shops. A Police dog handler arrived at the scene and his dog quickly found a scent that led from behind the shops to Akatarawa Road. Following the scent the dog began tracking the offenders. The officer then saw two men on Akatarawa Road and shouted at them to stop or he would release the dog. Despite hearing the officer’s command the two men fled and ran down a driveway near the shops.
The officer released his dog which caught one of the men. At this point the officer was at the top of the driveway trying to locate the second man as the pair had split up. The officer entered the driveway and saw the man standing against a fence and the Police dog biting the offender’s leg. As the officer moved to release the dog he slipped and slid down a small bank which delayed him from reaching the dog. About three or four seconds later the officer removed the dog and arrested the offender. Not long after that additional officers arrived and arrested the second offender without injury.
Police took the man who had been bitten by the dog to the Lower Hutt Police station where he was examined by a Police doctor. He was then taken to Lower Hutt hospital for treatment and remained there for eight days.
“In conducting its investigation the Authority found that there were reasonable grounds for the officer to suspect that the two men were responsible for the attempted burglary.
The Authority also found that releasing the Police dog to chase the offenders was the only realistic tactical option that would allow the officer to catch and arrest the suspected burglars. Once the officer reached the offender the dog was removed as soon as possible,” Sir David said.
Following the incident the offender who was bitten by the Police dog, complained to the Authority that he was punched in the face five to six times by the officer before the Police dog was removed from his leg.