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Mana Whanonga Pirihimana Motuhake

Officers used excessive force during arrest in Whangārei

21 January 2021

The Independent Police Conduct Authority has found that two officers used excessive force when arresting a man in Whangārei.

On 26 May 2019 two relatively inexperienced officers attended a house following a 111 call reporting that two brothers were fighting and their mother could not physically stop or separate them. When one of the officers stepped in between the two brothers, one of them yelled at the officer and pushed him with two hands. When the man did this a second time the officer told him he was under arrest. While the officer was trying to apply handcuffs the man tackled him, pushed the other officer out of the way and ran down the driveway.

The second officer fired her Taser at the man as he ran away. It missed, but he stopped running. Police ordered him to lie on the ground, which he did. One officer then sprayed pepper spray between his eyes, with verbal encouragement from the other officer, before handcuffing the man.

The Authority has found that the officers were not justified in using either the Taser or pepper spray during the arrest, and that their use constituted excessive uses of force. We also found that one of the officers used unprofessional and inappropriate language during the arrest, and that an officer's encouragement of the other officer to use pepper spray was not necessary and totally inappropriate.

Authority Chair, Judge Colin Doherty, said "the risk posed by the man once he had escaped was low. Police could have made enquiries to locate him later. The officer's use of a taser to prevent the man's escape was therefore not proportional, and not justified under section 40 of the Crimes Act. It was apparent to us that the other officer's use of pepper spray was done out of anger, not out of necessity to effect the arrest".

Public Report

Officers used excessive force during arrest in Whangārei (PDF 386 KB)

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