The Independent Police Conduct Authority has found that Police were justified in using force to detain a woman in rural Taranaki on 18 April 2021.
Two officers were called out to the rural town at about 5.30am after residents expressed welfare concerns for a woman who appeared to be experiencing a mental health crisis. The officers decided to take her to Taranaki Base Hospital for a mental health assessment.
The woman resisted Police, so they handcuffed her before placing her in the patrol car. When she then refused to pull her legs inside the car to allow the door to close, an officer pushed her legs inside the car. During the drive to the hospital, the woman tried to kick the driver from the backseat, so the officer sitting beside her restrained her by wrapping his arm around her legs.
The woman was admitted to the mental health unit where she complained of ongoing knee pain and was later diagnosed with a complete ACL tear. She complained to the Authority that the officers caused her injury through their use of force and used an inappropriate method of restraint when the officer held her legs in the patrol car.
The Authority found Police were justified in detaining the woman under the Mental Health (Compulsory Assessment and Treatment) Act 1991. While unable to conclusively identify the cause of the woman’s injury, the Authority found that the officers’ use of force to put the woman in the patrol car and restrain her for the duration of the drive was reasonable and appropriate.
Authority Chair Judge Colin Doherty says, “The officers were motivated by the woman’s need for mental health support and acted lawfully to overcome her resistance to their assistance. It is regrettable that in doing so their actions may have caused or contributed to her knee injury.”