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Auckland officer’s use of Police dog during arrest was unlawful

23 October 2014 - An Independent Police Conduct Authority report released today has found that the use of a Police dog during the arrests of two young men was an excessive use of force and unlawful.

On 23 August 2013 Waitakere Police and the Police Eagle helicopter began searching for three men who had fled on foot from a stolen car following an abandoned Police pursuit.

An officer and his dog began tracking the three men until he saw two of them crouching in a carport at a Green Bay address.  At this point the officer identified himself as a Police dog handler and told the men the dog would be used to arrest them if they moved. The men ignored the officer’s warning and ran down the driveway towards the road.  In response, the officer let go of the dog’s tracking line and commanded the dog to move towards the offenders. The dog caught up to one of the men and bit him before knocking the man to the ground and biting his arm. The dog continued to bite the man for at least 45 seconds before the officer removed him.

Independent Police Conduct Authority Chair, Judge Sir David Carruthers said the Authority found that, although the officer was justified in using his Police dog to prevent the offender from escaping, the officer’s failure to remove the dog in a timely manner after it had bitten the man was an excessive and unlawful use of force.

Shortly after this arrest and when additional officers arrived, the dog handler and other officers were directed to another property where the Police Eagle helicopter could see the third offender hiding. The officers warned the offender that a Police dog was on the property and asked him to come out of hiding. The officer and his dog tracked the man and found him hiding in a gap between a shed and a fence in the back corner of a Godley Road section.  The officer then deployed his dog and commanded him to bite and hold the offender.

“The officer’s use of his dog in this instance was an excessive and unlawful use of force.

“Given that the offender was standing still with both hands in the air and making no attempt to resist arrest the deployment of the dog was unnecessary. There were other, less harmful tactical options available to the officer which he should have used rather than deploying the Police dog,” Sir David said.

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