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Mana Whanonga Pirihimana Motuhake

Complaint that officers used excessive force in roadside search

8 September 2020

The Independent Police Conduct Authority has found that a man was punched by a Police officer at least once during a roadside search but cannot determine which officer was responsible.

On the night of Friday 30 November 2018, six members of the Waitemata Police Support Unit saw the moderately intoxicated man arguing with bar security staff. He became abusive towards the officers and vigorously resisted arrest. Three officers wrestled with the man on the ground before taking him into custody. Two associates of the man were also taken into custody for obstructing Police. The Authority found the arrests of the three men to be justified, as was the force used to execute the arrests.

During the journey to the Police station, the man rang 111 from the back of the Police van. When advised of the call, officers realised they had not yet searched the men, so pulled into a side street to do so. It is alleged that during this search the man was kneed, kicked and punched by a number of officers. The Authority cannot determine whether the man was kneed and kicked but found that he was punched.

The Authority found the officers should have searched the men at the first available opportunity. The roadside search should have been better planned and it should have been reported to the Communications Centre. Officers also demonstrated poor practice and a failure in their duty of care by not checking the handcuffs when two of the men complained they had become too tight. Once at the Police station, the man should have been given an opportunity to make a formal complaint about the alleged use of force. Four of the officers breached policy by failing to submit a report following their use of force during the initial arrest.

"I accept officers had reason to restrain Mr X physically while conducting the search. But Mr X was in handcuffs and he was held by two officers, so there was no reason to punch him," said Authority Chair, Judge Colin Doherty.

Public Report

Complaint that officers used excessive force in roadside search

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