An Independent Police Conduct Authority investigation found that a Police officer used repeated and gratuitous violence as retribution against a man following his arrest in Auckland in 2018.
On 24 August 2018, Police were called to reports of an intoxicated man on the street in central Auckland who was behaving in a disorderly way. As Officer A moved to arrest the man, the man punched him in the face. A struggle followed, involving four Police officers, and the man was arrested. The force used to effect the arrest was justified and reasonable.
Following the arrest, Officer A tried to lift the man to his feet by pulling on the man's arm inappropriately.Two officers walked the man to a Police van, and Officer A forced the man's head into the side of the van and kneed him in the face. Officer A then followed the man into the van and punched him repeatedly. Officer B saw this, heard Officer A threatening the man, and pulled Officer A out of the van.
On arrival at the Auckland Custody Unit, Officer A climbed into the Police van and punched the man several more times. He forcefully marched the man to a search area, pushing the man's head into a concrete block wall. He searched the man aggressively and punched him again.
Officer B reported Officer A's actions promptly and Police carried out a criminal investigation. Before the Authority's investigation started, Officer A was charged with four common assaults and threatening to kill. Officer A was stood down awaiting trial.
Shortly before the trial date, Officer A pleaded guilty to two amended charges of common assault, and the other charges were withdrawn. Officer A resigned from Police before sentencing in January 2020. Officer A was discharged without conviction and ordered to pay reparation to Mr X.
The Authority was satisfied that each alleged act of violence took place and found that Officer A used excessive force as retribution for the man having punched him during the arrest.
Judge Colin Doherty, Authority Chair, said:"Gratuitous violence of this nature on the part of anyone, let alone a police officer, is never acceptable. I acknowledge the swift Police response to this incident. It is unlikely this incident would have come to light had Officer B not reported it to his superiors. I commend him for doing so."