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Mana Whanonga Pirihimana Motuhake

Complaint that officer used excessive force during arrest in Wellington

17 June 2021

The Independent Police Conduct Authority investigated a complaint that excessive force was used on a youth following his arrest in Wellington on 12 January 2020.

The incident took place after a car appeared to evade an alcohol checkpoint. The car pulled into a driveway where Police spoke with the youth who was found to have taken the car unlawfully and was driving while disqualified. The complaint alleged the youth was punched in the face, thrown to the ground and officers failed to listen when he told them he was having difficulty breathing.

The Authority found the use of force to take the youth to the ground following his arrest was justified and proportionate. Video footage filmed by a witness shows the youth was not punched in the face, but he was taken to the ground in a reasonably controlled manner given the circumstances.

While the youth is on the ground, the officer's knee can be seen placed on the side of his head. Although there was minimal force applied by the officer, placing the officer's knee on the youth's head was unjustified.

"The footage shows the youth made no genuine attempt to get up from the ground. Therefore, the placement of the officer's knee on his head was entirely unnecessary" says Authority Chair, Judge Colin Doherty.

The Authority also found that the officer should have submitted a Tactical Options Report in relation to the force used to take him to the ground.

Final Report

Complaint that officer used excessive force during arrest in Wellington (PDF 153 KB)

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