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Off-duty Police officer punches youth who stole cigarettes

15 September 2022

The Independent Police Conduct Authority has found that an off-duty Police Officer used excessive force when apprehending a 14-year-old boy whom he caught stealing from his North Auckland property in July 2019.

The officer was at his home address in North Auckland when he disturbed the boy stealing a packet of cigarettes off the deck at the front of the property. The boy and a friend who was waiting nearby, made their way to a local park.

The officer found the boys in the park and demanded his cigarettes back. When one of them went to hand them back, the officer punched him in twice in the face, knocking him to the ground. He later claimed he did so because he thought the boy might have been holding a weapon.

Police attended the incident, and the boy was taken to hospital with a suspected fractured eye socket. The officer was charged with injuring the boy but after two jury trials in 2020 and 2021 when each jury was unable to reach a verdict, the Crown elected not to proceed to a third trial.

The Authority conducted an independent investigation which was completed in 2019. The public release of the report was delayed because of ongoing court proceedings.

“We do not accept that the officer perceived himself to have been at risk of attack from the boy or that he punched the boy to defend himself. There was no legal justification to punch the boy and we agree with the Police decision to charge the officer with injuring him,” said Authority Chair, Judge Colin Doherty.

Public Report

Off-duty Police officer punches youth who stole cigarettes (PDF 298 KB) 
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