The Independent Police Conduct Authority has found that a Police officer was not justified in his use of a Taser when arresting a member of the public on 4 March 2017.
The officer drew his Taser and pointed it at the man, shining its laser sights on him as a warning, a technique known as “laser painting”. The man initially obeyed instructions, however, when the officer radioed for backup, the man ran away. The officer chased him down the street, and then back up the driveway where the motorcycle and Police car were parked.
The officer warned the man to stop, and that he had a Taser. The man kept running. The officer later told the Authority he was concerned that the man might take the Police car. He tasered the man in the back, causing him to fall face-forward onto the driveway.
The man suffered facial injuries, and was knocked unconscious. The officer again called for backup, and an ambulance. Another officer arrived shortly afterwards, and the two officers put the man into the recovery position while they awaited the ambulance.
The Authority found that the officer was justified in arresting the man for his dangerous driving and in exercise of outstanding warrants for his arrest. However, he was not justified in laser painting or discharging his Taser at the man.
Police policy requires that when an officer uses a Taser on someone, the person must be “assaultive”- that is “showing an intent to cause harm, expressed verbally or through body language or physical action”.
“Although Officer A felt vulnerable, Mr X’s behaviour was not assaultive, and Mr X was not presenting an immediate threat. Officer A had other options available to him” said Authority Chair, Judge Colin Doherty.
The Authority also found that the officer should have provided medical assistance immediately after the man was tasered. However, once the second officer arrived, appropriate steps were taken to ensure the man’s safety.
Use of a Taser during arrest in Henderson (PDF 545 KB)