23 February 2017
The Independent Police Conduct Authority has found that a probationary constable’s use of a Taser on an Auckland man as he ran away from Police was contrary to policy and unjustified.
During the evening of 1 October 2015, Police were called to a report of suspicious activity in Mt Eden, Auckland. The caller suspected that people were trying to steal a car. When two officers attended, a man sitting in a stolen Porsche sped away from Police.
After a short pursuit, the Porsche was stopped after driving over road spikes. The man ran from Police and the probationary constable followed him on foot.
The constable believed that the man was going to enter a house and decided to use his Taser to stop him from doing so. He fired his Taser twice at the man as he ran away. The probes hit the man in the leg and then in the back, however the man pulled them out, with no obvious ill effects, and continued running.
The man was arrested a short time later after a struggle.
On 2 November 2015, the man complained to Police about the force used during his arrest. He said that he should not have been tasered and that the probationary constable pushed him down a flight of stairs and then tried to break his arm when he was arrested. He also claimed that the constable told ambulance paramedics to “knock him out”.
The Authority acknowledges that the probationary constable was inexperienced and was worried the man could run into a house where he could get help, get a weapon or hurt an innocent member of the public. However, “Police policy is clear that a Taser can only be used on a person who is assaultive”, said Authority Chair, Judge Sir David Carruthers. “As the man was running away at the time he was tasered, his behaviour had not met that threshold. The officer’s use of the Taser on the man clearly breached policy.”
The Authority also found that the probationary constable did not dive on the man or push him down the steps or try to break his arm. “The force used by the officer to handcuff and control the man was reasonable and justified in the circumstances”, said Sir David.
There was no evidence that any officer present directed the ambulance paramedics to knock the man out or sedate him.
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