The Independent Police Conduct Authority has found that Police failed to investigate a complaint from a man that he had been assaulted while a detainee in the Counties Manukau Custody Unit. When the man returned to the Custody Unit two months later, he assaulted a custody officer, who subsequently used excessive force while the man was being restrained.
On 9 June 2021, a man complained that he had been assaulted while he was in the Counties Manukau Custody Unit. Police made no inquiries into this allegation.
On 11 August 2021, the man returned to the Custody Unit. He assaulted a custody officer, telling us that he attacked the officer because his previous experience led him to believe he was going to be assaulted again. The man was restrained by Custody Unit staff, but one custody officer used excessive force, unnecessarily punching and kicking the man.
The Authority concluded that the custody officer used excessive force. The Authority was also critical that Police failed to investigate the complaint made by the man in June 2021, and that Police concluded that the custody officer had not used excessive force in the August 2021 incident – despite clear CCTV evidence.
Authority Chairman Judge Colin Doherty said:
“While it is disappointing that the custody officer in this case used excessive force, it is entirely reasonable to conclude that had the detainee’s earlier complaint been adequately dealt with, this later incident would not have occurred.
It is also disappointing that this case is book-ended by two failures by Police to investigate appropriately. Firstly, the June 2021 complaint by the man was not investigated, and then the subsequent use of force by the custody officer was seemingly excused by Police.