13 April 2017
The Independent Police Conduct Authority has found that an officer’s second use of a Taser on a Christchurch man was disproportionate and unjustified.
At about midnight on 19 April 2016, Police were called to a domestic incident at a residential address in Christchurch. The two attending officers were told that the man had “flipped out and was uncontrollable.”
When the officers arrived a man began to walk towards them very fast in a threatening manner. The officers described him as speaking “in a funny tongue” and believed he was suffering from mental illness. They could smell alcohol on him.
When the officers tried to calm the man down, he kicked at and punched at the officers. Both had to take evasive action to avoid being hit. The man was told he was under arrest and was pepper sprayed, which had no effect.
When the man continued to threaten and try to fight the officers, one officer warned the man that if he did not get on the ground he would be tasered. The man did not comply and the officer tasered him.
When the man fell to the ground, officers told him to roll onto his stomach and put his hands behind his back. The Taser Cam footage shows the man muttering and in a trance like state. He does not respond to the officers and is suffering from the effects of being tasered.
Five seconds after the first use of the Taser, the officer deployed the Taser on the man for a second time. Following this discharge, the man rolls over and Police handcuff him.
The Authority found that as the man was clearly assaultive, the officer’s first use of the Taser was justified and complied with policy.
“A Taser can only be used on a person who is assaultive”, said Authority Chair, Judge Sir David Carruthers. It cannot be used on an uncooperative but non-aggressive person to induce compliance.
“The officer’s second use of the Taser occurred when the man was on the ground and clearly still affected by the first use of the Taser. While the man did not immediately roll over, there was no immediate threat of harm to anybody. The second use of the Taser was for compliance and should not have been used. It amounted to a breach of Police policy, was disproportionate in the circumstances and an unjustified use of force.” said Sir David.
Police use of a Taser during arrest in Christchurch (PDF, 498kb)