23 June 2016
The Independent Police Conduct Authority has found that Police unlawfully arrested an innocent man at his home in Upper Hutt on 23 January 2015 after mistaking him for an offender they were seeking.
Two officers (a sergeant and a dog handler) went to the property in search of a man who had threatened his ex-partner and rammed her car. The property belonged to the ex- partner’s parents, and her father answered the door.
The sergeant immediately arrested and handcuffed the father, although he did not match the description of the offender. As the dog handler assisted the sergeant with escorting the father down the driveway, his Police dog bit the father without being commanded to do so. The officers then took the father to a nearby Police car before accepting they had arrested the wrong person.
“The events of 23 January 2015 were stressful and humiliating for the man, who was forcefully arrested in response to a criminal act for which he was not responsible”, said Authority Chair, Judge Sir David Carruthers.
The Authority concluded that the arrest was unlawful, because the sergeant did not have good cause to suspect the father had committed an offence and neglected to take basic steps to identify the person he was arresting. As a result of this, both officers used excessive and unlawful force to handcuff the man and remove him from his property.
The Authority also found that the dog handler’s conduct during the arrest was inappropriate, and that he should not have placed his dog in a position where it was able to bite the handcuffed man as the two officers were escorting him to the Police car.
Police decided not to prosecute the sergeant who carried out the unlawful arrest. In light of personal circumstances relating to the officer, the Authority considers that such a decision is appropriate.
Complaint regarding an arrest in Upper Hutt (PDF 517 KB)