The Independent Police Conduct Authority has found that Police were not justified in arresting a man for obstruction in Wellington on 27 February 2021.
Two Police officers were walking to attend a large fight in Wellington when a man walked about two metres behind them for approximately 170 metres. The officers warned the man for obstructing them. They told the Authority that they feared for their safety and were unable to do their job with the man walking behind them. Both officers arrested the man; they alleged he was resisting and therefore took him to the ground.
The man was taken to Wellington Central Police Station and released with a Formal Written Warning for obstruction. The following day he sought medical attention for a head injury that was sustained during the arrest process. He then made a complaint to the Authority that the arrest was unlawful, excessive force was used, and a racist comment was made to him by Police.
The Authority found that the arrest was unlawful, and therefore all subsequent uses of force were unlawful and there were no grounds to issue a Formal Written Warning. Police agreed to remove the Formal Written Warning.
The Authority also found that the force used by the officers caused the man to sustain a head injury, and he was subsequently not given the appropriate medical care. The Authority was unable to determine whether a racist comment was made by Police.
Authority Chair, Judge Colin Doherty, says, “We believe that the officers could reasonably have continued walking down Courtenay Place, even if the man had continued to follow them. While his presence may have been annoying to the officers, it did not impede them from carrying out their duty”.