The Independent Police Conduct Authority has found that Police were justified in using a Police dog to arrest a man in Palmerston North on 15 June 2021.
Police were patrolling the area to find a wanted gang-member who had known access to firearms. Two officers noticed a stolen car being driven erratically outside a gang address. The officers believed one of the occupants inside the car could be the wanted man so initiated a pursuit. The pursuit ended when the occupants got out and ran across a field. Both officers ran after them, but one of the male passengers was able to flee into a neighboring street.
A dog handler had gone into the neighboring street to block off any escape routes. He saw the man and warned him to stop twice, but the man continued to flee. At the same time the Police dog was released, the man lay on the ground to surrender behind a set of the parked cars. The dog apprehended him by the neck. The man was arrested and taken straight to Palmerston North Hospital.
The Authority found that the use of the dog was lawful and reasonable under the circumstances. Authority Chair, Judge Colin Doherty, says, “Although we do not believe that the theft of a car will always warrant apprehension of the thief by a Police dog, we accept the use of the dog was a proportionate use of force in these circumstances and that the officer had reason to believe the man needed to be apprehended immediately."