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Mana Whanonga Pirihimana Motuhake

Unconscious man in Manukau cell

22 April 2021

The Independent Police Conduct Authority has found that on 15 September 2019, Police in Manukau did not take appropriate actions to care for a man held in their custody who drifted in and out of consciousness for almost three hours before he was taken to hospital.

Police had been called to a property where the man was shouting, swearing, and possibly assaulting his partner. The man was drunk and had been smashing his head against a wall. Upon arrival, officers found the man asleep on the driveway, snoring loudly. Once woken, he became aggressive and uncooperative, and officers were told he was possibly under the influence of drugs. They placed the man in handcuffs. The man then attempted to bang his head on a fence and hit his head on the concrete driveway. Police took the man to the custody unit, however, the Authority found they should have taken him directly to hospital.

Once at the custody unit, the man was left in a cell in the prisoner transport truck for 44 minutes while a decision was made whether to receive him into the custody unit or take him to hospital. The Authority considers this to be unacceptable.

The man was eventually placed in a custody unit cell. He was not placed in the recovery position, as he should have been. He was seen by a Police doctor over an hour later. The doctor said the man needed to go to hospital, however, he lay in an unresponsive state in the cell for a further 56 minutes before being taken. This delay was unreasonable.

The Authority also found the custody evaluation did not accurately reflect the man's condition.

"Police policy says that if a person in their care is only partially responsive, Police should treat it as a medical emergency and the person should be taken to hospital. Police did not do this and failed in their duty of care," said Authority Chair, Judge Colin Doherty.

Public Report

Unconscious man in Manukau cell (PDF 529 KB)

22 April 2021

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