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Force used on detained 15 year old boy excessive and contrary to law

21 January 2016

The Independent Police Conduct Authority released a report today finding that force used by a Police officer on a boy while he was at Taupo Police station was excessive and contrary to law.

At 10.30pm on 21 November 2014, Police were alerted to two boys acting suspiciously south of Taupo who had subsequently hitched a ride from a passing vehicle. Two Police officers stopped the vehicle and, concerned about the safety of the two boys, decided to take them home. One boy was taken home but the other refused to give Police his address and was taken back to Taupo Police station in order for it to be determined.

On the way back to the station the officers discovered that the boy had a full can of pre-mix alcohol in his possession. Officer A stopped the patrol car and held the boy down on the backseat in order to remove the can, search and handcuff him due to safety concerns for both officers.

At the station, the boy was told he was going to be taken home to his mother’s house. He became upset and told the officers he did not want to go. He then went into an empty cell, followed by the Officer A, who grabbed the boy as he was sitting on a bench and held him against the cell wall by his throat.

Officer B witnessed the incident, and felt that the use of force was excessive, and reported their concerns to a supervisor.

The Authority’s report found that Police were justified in:

  • detaining the boy and taking him back to the station so that his current address could be established; and
  • using reasonable force to remove the can of alcohol, search and handcuff the boy in the back of the patrol car.

However, Officer A’s actions, in grabbing the boy by the throat, amounted to excessive force and were contrary to law.

In releasing this report, the Independent Police Conduct Authority Chair, Judge Sir David Carruthers said: “The Authority is satisfied that the boy was only verbally resisting going to his mother’s house when he was grabbed by Officer A and held against the cell wall by his throat. This degree of force was not justified in the circumstances. Officer A’s actions escalated the situation rather than resolved it”.

Full Report

Complaint of excessive force on a 15 year old boy in Taupo (PDF 440 KB)

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