On 8 November 2020, Police were justified in using force to effect the arrest of a youth for a suspected family harm incident and breaching a protection order in Christchurch.
In confronting him, Police were aware that the youth had threatened to stab the next officer he dealt with. The youth was aggressive and resisted Police during his arrest. He refused to present his arms so he could be handcuffed and kicked out at officers, striking one of them. The arresting officer had to deal with the youth on his own as the other available officer was occupied keeping two other people from interfering.
The arresting officer took the youth to the ground to place handcuffs on him. During the handcuffing, the officer was forced to use a trained distraction technique and struck the youth to the head area four times to gain control of the youth’s arms.
Once handcuffed, the youth was taken to the Christchurch Police Station in a patrol car. During the journey he kicked the officer driving and the officer beside him, striking the second officer’s body, head, and face. His kicks damaged the car’s interior.
An officer used further strikes to the youth’s legs, body, and head region to gain control of him. On arrival at the Christchurch police station, the youth was still behaving aggressively. Five officers were required to remove him from the patrol car, search him, and place him into a cell.
The youth was released into the care of family two hours later. His family complained he had been mistreated.
We found that the use of the strikes to effect the arrest were reasonable and justified in this circumstance. We also found that the strikes used within the patrol car were justified in self-defence.
In addition, Police provided the appropriate level of care by arranging a doctor to examine the youth. We could not find any evidence that he was mistreated while in Police custody.
Authority Chair, Judge Colin Doherty, says, “We are of the view that any strike to the head region should be only used in extreme circumstances. However, we find the officer was justified in using them to arrest the youth given circumstances in this incident”.