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Mana Whanonga Pirihimana Motuhake

Unreasonable use of force for disorderly behaviour in Invercargill

29 June 2021

The Independent Police Conduct Authority has found an officer used unjustified force when he placed an intoxicated woman in a headlock and pulled her to the ground on 25 July 2020 in Invercargill.

The officer, along with three other officers, approached the woman and her friends who were drinking in a liquor-ban area. They told the women to pour out their remaining alcohol. The officer had a verbal exchange with the woman, where he used unprofessional and inappropriate language.

The woman then kicked some empty cans. The officer immediately grabbed her arm and arrested her for disorderly behaviour. The officer alleges the woman tried to hit him however, CCTV does not support his account. Rather, she accidentally knocked his hat when she lost her balance.

The officer placed the woman in a headlock then pulled her backwards onto the ground. It appears the woman kicked the officer as she struggled to get him to release her.

Once on the ground, the woman's hands were cuffed behind her back. The officer took hold of the handcuffs and pulled her up off the ground in an unnecessarily roughly manner.

The Authority believes the officer lost his temper and retaliated in anger to the woman's attitude and actions. He was not acting to defend himself, as claimed. Even if he had acted in self-defence, the force used would have been disproportionate and excessive.

"The officer's frustration resulted in him using force which good policing would have avoided," says Authority Chair, Judge Colin Doherty.

Public Report
Unreasonable use of force for disorderly behaviour in Invercargill (PDF 444 KB)
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