The Independent Police Conduct Authority has found that Police were justified in using a Taser and two Police dogs to subdue a man before arresting him in Kawhia on 13 July 2017. However, the Authority also found that additional discharges of the Taser were not justified and were excessive.
Officers from the Armed Offenders Squad were carrying out a search of two properties. Following a long period of requests to do so, a man came out of the second property. Police were uncertain if he had access to weapons, and due to his erratic behaviour, believed him to be affected by methamphetamine.
Three officers, acting independently of each other, each took action to subdue the man so that he could be arrested. An officer released a Police dog, which bit the man on his arm. The man fought the dog off. A second officer released another Police dog which bit the man on the leg, and at the same time, a third officer tasered the man. The third officer then discharged his Taser twice more before the man was handcuffed. All three officers acted within seconds of each other.
The Authority considered whether each officer acted lawfully when they used force on the man.
The first officer was found to have been justified in releasing his dog because the man posed a threat to officers and needed to be subdued as soon as possible. The use of the Police dog complied with law and Police policy. The second officer was also found to be justified in using his Police dog to assist the first dog.
The Authority accepts that, when the third officer discharged his Taser, he feared imminent assault and used his Taser to protect himself. The officer did not have time to recognise that the dogs had control of the man before he made the decision to fire his Taser. Therefore the Authority found that this officer was justified in firing his Taser on the first occasion.
However the Authority considered that from that point on, the man was trying to comply with Police and was attempting to protect himself. The Authority found that the repeated use of a Taser during this period was excessive and unjustified.
Authority Chair, Judge Colin Doherty, said: "Police were justified in using Police dogs to apprehend the man, who was clearly drug-affected, and presented a threat to the officers. Officer C was justified in using a Taser to defend himself initially, but was not justified in firing his Taser two more times."