Top cop sorry over paralysis

By Kristin Edge

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Northland's top cop has apologised to the father of a man who was left paralysed while in police custody.

Superintendent Russell Le Prou met with Ray Legg on Tuesday following the release of the Independent Police Conduct Authority report which found while police actions were reasonable and complied with the law in most respects, one officer failed to fulfil his duty of care to Shane Legg.

Shane Legg, 28, was arrested in April last year after he led police on a high-speed pursuit. As he was climbing a fence he fell and suffered a serious neck injury that left him paralysed.

In the three-hour meeting held in a conference room at a Whangarei motel Mr Le Prou confirmed he offered an apology on behalf of police.

"The officer in question wished he could take back what happened that night. It was an error of judgment, but not intentional," Mr Le Prou said.

"After the various difficult obstacles that they faced coming down the hill, the officer formed a genuine opinion that he could get Shane Legg over the fence. No police officer goes out there to cause harm to anyone in our community."

The report recommended police reconsider their decision not to take action under the Code of Conduct in relation to the officer who was holding on to Mr Legg when he got over a fence.

Mr Le Prou said the file would be sent out of the area to another district commander or Police National Headquarters for consideration. "I can't speculate on what action may be taken, but as the IPCA report stated the officer did not intend to cause injury and the arrest of Shane Legg was reasonable and in compliance with all relevant policies."

Ray Legg said the officer involved with making his son climb over a fence should have at least been stood down while the investigation was being conducted.

"He shouldn't get a pension. He should be donating his pension to Shane, who has a life time of nightmares ahead of him.

"Shane has his life ahead of him and now it's destroyed. He's still being fed through a tube in his stomach 17 months after this happened."

Mr Legg said the police care and attention for people under arrest had to be the "worst" in this case.

- NORTHERN ADVOCATE

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