The Independent Police Conduct Authority has found that Police were justified in using a Police dog to arrest a man between Rotorua and Taupō on 24 April 2021.
Police observed a car being driven in the Rotorua region that had been stolen the day before in Auckland. At 3.35am a dog handler found the car stopped about twenty kilometres south of Rotorua on State Highway one. When the dog handler stopped behind the vehicle the male driver got out and walked towards him. The dog handler told the man he was under arrest.
The man then became assaultive and resisted arrest, which led to a violent struggle between him and the dog handler and Police dog, which lasted nearly five minutes before Police assistance arrived.
The man suffered dog bite injuries which required surgery and Police later advised the Authority of the incident.
The man and the dog handler gave conflicting accounts about how the struggle started and what happened. A female passenger in the stolen car was not involved in the incident and the Authority was not able to locate her for interview. Based on the evidence available however, the Authority found the officer’s account more reliable.
The man was charged in relation to the stolen car as well as resisting arrest and assaulting the dog handler and his dog.
The Authority found that the use of the dog was lawful and reasonable in the circumstances. Authority Chair, Judge Colin Doherty, says “Because of the likelihood of injury caused by a biting dog, we consider the use of a Police dog to be a significant use of force, only justifiable in specific circumstances. On its own, apprehending the driver of a stolen car will not often warrant such significant force. In this case, however, the dog handler was on his own, without immediate back-up facing an offender intent on both resisting and assaulting him; a situation where the use of the dog was justified”.