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Unjustified strike in Manukau District Court cells

20 June 2024 

The Independent Police Conduct Authority has found that a custody officer was unjustified in striking a detainee on the side of his head in the Manukau District Court cells in January 2023.

From the time of his arrival at the Court cells, the man had been slow to comply with instructions and belligerent towards staff. When the custody officer went to retrieve the man for a visit with his lawyer, the man challenged him to a fight and threatened him, saying “I want to shoot you and your family.”

Ten minutes later, the man returned to the corridor, swearing at detainees in other cells. The custody officer and his colleague instructed him to return to his cell. The man walked slowly down the corridor while verbally abusing the custody officer, repeating his challenge to fight, and again threatening to shoot him and his family.

CCTV footage shows that the man then went to step past the custody officer to continue walking towards his cell. As he did so, the custody officer struck him on the side of his face with a closed fist, causing the man to stumble sideways against a wall.

The Authority reviewed the footage and interviewed the custody officer and his colleagues who were in the vicinity at the time of the incident. The custody officer explained that he pre-emptively struck the detainee in self-defence as he felt threatened and believed the detainee was about to assault him.

The Authority found the custody officer had less forceful options available to him. He could have moved away from the man or pushed him away to redirect him. Given this, the Authority concluded the strike was unnecessary and is therefore unjustified.

The Authority accepts Police did not have enough evidence to charge the custody officer with assault.

The custody officer is no longer working for Police.

Public Report
Unjustified strike in Manukau District Court cells (PDP 375 KB)
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