The Independent Police Conduct Authority has found that an officer at Taupō (Officer A) used unjustified and unnecessary force during the arrest of a 17-year-old female (Ms Z).
During the late afternoon on 5 November 2020, officers attended a vehicle accident on the outskirts of Taupō. The officers could not locate the driver, Ms Z, or her female passenger. Ms Z’s mother and grandfather travelled to the scene but were also unable to locate the pair.
About two hours later, Police found the young women hiding nearby in a dense bush. Officer A took Ms Z from the bush and proceeded to physically escort her to her family members who were standing nearby. Ms Z was being abusive and uncooperative towards Officer A when he forcefully took her to the ground and applied handcuffs.
Ms Z’s family members and another officer witnessed Officer A’s actions and reported that it was unnecessary. Later that evening, Ms Z was found to have a broken shoulder.
The Authority could not determine how this injury occurred. However, on the evidence of eyewitnesses, the officer’s actions in taking Ms Z to the ground were an unnecessary use of force when he already had her under control. We found that, on balance, Officer A was unjustified in forcing Ms Z to the ground in the way he did.
Police charged the officer with being a male, assaults a female and in September 2023 he was acquitted of the charge in the Rotorua District Court.
The Authority completed its investigation into this incident in February 2022 but delayed the release of its public report until after the conclusion of those court proceedings.