Police tasering of man in cell "excessive and unjustified"

A South Auckland Police sergeant's Tasering of an Auckland man in his cell was "contrary to policy, excessive and unjustified" the Independent Police Conduct Authority has found.

According to an IPCA media release:

Officers arrested the man for possessing an offensive weapon and took him back to the Police station.

 

Police told the man that he would need to be strip searched and placed in a tear resistant gown and he was walked to a small cubicle for this to happen.

 

The man repeatedly refused to remove his clothes so the officers told the man that they would have to cut his clothes off him.

 

The man resisted Police attempts to remove his clothes. A sergeant entered the cubicle and, after a short time, used his Taser twice on the man.

The release quotes IPCA Chair Judge Sir David Carruthers:

"Police policy clearly states that a Taser must only be used on a person who is assaultive. As the man was being held down by two officers and had his back turned to the sergeant when he was tasered, his behaviour had not met that threshold. The sergeant’s use of the Taser breached Police policy and was excessive and unjustified."

 

"There were other, less violent, options available to the officers. They could have continued communicating with the man or have asked the officers who were outside the cubicle for assistance,” Sir David said.

Further reporting by NZ Herald quotes the Police response to the finding. The response appears to minimise the officer's excessive use of force by referring to the victim's mental health issues.

They said police had twice dealt with the man that day, once in Waitakere and once in South Auckland where he was threatening to harm himself.

 

[..]

 

Counties Manukau police operations and support manager Acting Superintendent Tracy Phillips said the man's behaviour was unpredictable throughout the day.

As is typical, Police use the "employment matter" defence to claim they cannot elaborate on their internal investigation.  This makes it nearly impossible for the public to gauge whether Police internal investigations are adequate: whether their investigation found similarly to the IPCA and if not why not.

"We completely accept the IPCA's findings and will be taking this as a learning opportunity."

These "learning opportunities" have occured many times since the introduction of the Taser. It's time for proper accountability for its abuse.

Sources

IPCA Media Release, IPCA Public ReportNZ Herald.

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