The Independent Police Conduct Authority has found that an officer in Te Araroa directed a man he suspected to be intoxicated to drive a short distance to a Police station, where the man failed an Evidential Breath Test. The Authority also determined that the officer did not accurately complete the breath-testing documentation.
This incident occurred on 2 September 2018, after a member of the public complained to the officer about the man's driving. The officer signalled the man to stop and followed him up a long driveway. When the man got out of his truck, the officer recognised him from an incident several days earlier when man had been verbally aggressive to him.
The officer said he felt unsafe in the driveway and thought it safer to deal with the man elsewhere, so he directed the man to drive to the Police station (less than a kilometre away). He told the Authority he did this because he intended to speak to the man about the driving complaint and arrest him for his earlier threatening behaviour. However, records indicated that the officer also suspected the man had been drinking before directing him to drive to the Police station.
"An officer directing a motorist to drive, knowing or suspecting the motorist to have been drinking, is highly unusual and fraught with risk. While the Authority accepts the officer had valid reasons for wanting to speak with the man at the Police station, it does not agree with the officer's decision to direct the man to drive there" said Authority Chair, Judge Colin Doherty.
The Authority found that the officer should have remained in the driveway and arrested the man for threatening behaviour or, if he felt unsafe doing so, left the address and dealt with him later.
When the man arrived at the Police station, the officer arrested him. The man later complained to the Authority about his arrest, stating that the officer "shoulder barged" him, and questioned him and his partner about a crime he did not commit. The Authority was unable to verify these allegations.