The Independent Police Conduct Authority has found an officer used excessive force during the arrest of a man in Auckland on 21 June 2020.
The Authority completed its investigation into this incident in March 2021 but delayed the release of its public report until related court proceedings concluded in February 2022.
Just after midnight on 21 June 2020, a Police patrol disturbed a man spray-painting on a wall in Hopetoun Street, Auckland City. When officers stopped to speak to the man, he ran off but was quickly apprehended and taken to the ground.
The man resisted arrest before being restrained in handcuffs. During the struggle, one of the officers punched the man twice to the head as he believed the man may be holding weapons. The officer then kneed the man to the head area because he believed the man was trying to grab hold of the equipment (taser, baton, pepper spray etc) on his duty belt.
The man sustained a number of injuries as a result of the struggle and required hospital treatment.
In subsequent media coverage of the arrest, the man alleged that the officers profiled him and used excessive force because he was Māori.
The Authority found it was reasonable for the officers to apprehend and take the man to the ground. The Authority also accepted the man resisted when he was arrested. However, punching and kneeing the man during the struggle that ensued was not justified.
“Although we accept that the man was resisting arrest, given the number of police present, the officer should not have needed to punch or knee the man in order to effect his arrest. These uses of force were disproportionate to the risk posed by the man, and excessive,” said Authority Chair, Judge Colin Doherty.
The Authority also found that Police responded appropriately in providing the man with medical care for his injuries, and there was no evidence the officers profiled him or used excessive force because of his ethnicity.