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Mana Whanonga Pirihimana Motuhake

Officer assaulted 16-year-old boy at Police station

17 February 2020

The Authority oversaw a Police investigation into a complaint that alleged a Police officer assaulted a 16-year-old boy at a Police station in Southern District in July 2017

The officer had asked the boy to come to the station to discuss an allegation that he had been driving dangerously. During the discussion, the boy got up to leave the room and the officer shouted at him, grabbed him by the collar, dragged him backwards and pushed him forcefully down into a chair. The officer then threatened to use further force when the boy tried to get up to leave again.

The officer issued the boy a notice forbidding him to drive and drove him to his mother's workplace. On the way there, they stopped at the car the boy had been driving and the officer searched this and seized some property.

A criminal investigation found that the officer's use of force did meet the threshold of assault, though it was at the lower end of the scale. The officer had also failed to advise the boy of his rights, and his subsequent actions amounted to unlawful detention and an unlawful search and seizure of property.

Police decided that it was not in the public interest to criminally charge the officer for the assault because it was relatively minor, the boy suffered no discernible injuries, charging would likely result in a minimal penalty, and the incident would therefore be better addressed through Police's disciplinary process.

Following an employment investigation, an appropriate sanction was imposed, the complaint was upheld, and Police apologised to the boy. The officer involved has since left Police.

The Authority's final review determined that, while an assault did occur, the outcome reached by Police was satisfactory in the circumstances.

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