9 March 2017
The Independent Police Conduct Authority has found that a sergeant’s use of a Taser on a mentally unwell Auckland man, while he was in a small cubicle at Counties Manukau Police station, was contrary to policy, excessive and unjustified.
During the morning of 27 April 2016, Police were called to a South Auckland address following a 111 call reporting that a man was holding a large kitchen knife and threatening to commit suicide.
When Police arrived at the address, the man’s family told them that he had been cutting himself earlier in the day with a small pocketknife and it was possible that he still had this knife concealed on him.
Officers arrested the man for possessing an offensive weapon and took him back to the Police station.
Police told the man that he would need to be strip searched and placed in a tear resistant gown and he was walked to a small cubicle for this to happen.
The man repeatedly refused to remove his clothes so the officers told the man that they would have to cut his clothes off him.
The man resisted Police attempts to remove his clothes. A sergeant entered the cubicle and, after a short time, used his Taser twice on the man.
As part of its investigation into this incident, the Authority viewed footage from the CCTV camera in the custody suite and footage taken from the sergeant’s Taser camera.
“Police policy clearly states that a Taser must only be used on a person who is assaultive. As the man was being held down by two officers and had his back turned to the sergeant when he was tasered, his behaviour had not met that threshold. The sergeant’s use of the Taser breached Police policy and was excessive and unjustified,” said Authority Chair, Judge Sir David Carruthers.
“There were other, less violent, options available to the officers. They could have continued communicating with the man or have asked the officers who were outside the cubicle for assistance,” Sir David said.
Use of Taser following arrest in Auckland (PDF, 492 kb)