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Home / Publications and Media / 2023 media releases

Force used justified to arrest a man at Matapu Taranaki

22 August 2023

The Independent Police Conduct Authority found that officers were justified in using force, during the arrest of a man (Mr X) in Taranaki. However, we found that an officer was not justified in shooting at the tyres of Mr X’s moving motor vehicle.

On 18 February 2022, Police were trying to locate Mr X, a high-risk priority offender, who had Court issued warrants for his arrest. At about 2.30pm, fifteen officers went to a rural property at Matapu. Mr X saw Police approaching, got into his vehicle and drove off at speed.

An officer shot at Mr X’s tyres but missed. Mr X’s vehicle then collided with two Police vehicles coming up the driveway, causing his vehicle to stop. Mr X jumped from the car and ran across nearby farm paddocks. Police pursued Mr X on foot and apprehended him in a neighbouring property. During the arrest, Mr X offered significant resistance and was tasered and physically restrained.

Mr X complained to the Authority that he had been shot at, beaten, and tasered without justification.

We investigated the Police’s use of force during this incident and found that, except for shooting at the tyres of Mr X’s vehicle, the force used in arresting him was justified. Mr X’s flight risk, his use of violence in escaping, and the proximity of members of the public where he was eventually arrested, were critical considerations for the officers concerned.

Authority Chair Judge Kenneth Johnston KC said:

“While Police initially found no issue with the shots fired at a vehicle, I am pleased that upon our investigation, Police have accepted their policy regarding shooting at moving vehicles needs to be amended.

Regarding the first use of a Taser, there are dangers with officers firing the device at somebody from behind as they run away. However, due to the risk Mr X posed to the public and Police, as well as his extreme motivation to escape, we consider it was justified in this case.”

The Authority completed its investigation in March 2023. Publishing of its report was delayed as we engaged with Police regarding a policy re-assessment. We subsequently made recommendations to Police.

Public Report 

Force used to arrest a man in Matapu Taranaki (PDF 576 KB)

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