Officers in court over attack claim

By Juliet zRowan, Juliet Rowan

Four police officers have been charged over the alleged bashing of a man in police cells at Whakatane.

Police said yesterday the male officers had appeared in court and faced a range of charges, including assault with a weapon.

"There are multiple charges on some officers which arise out of the same incident," said Bay of Plenty district commander Superintendent Gary Smith.

He would not go into detail about the nature and number of charges each officer faced.

The four were granted interim name suppression at the appearance in Whakatane District Court late on Wednesday.

They were remanded on bail until February 14.

Mr Smith said the officers remained suspended from duty "as they have been since shortly after the incident came to the notice of police".

The four were stood down on full pay after a man in his 20s alleged they assaulted him in a Whakatane police station charge room on Labour Day.

The Herald was told two of the officers allegedly beat the man while a third allegedly pepper-sprayed him.

The alleged assault was captured on video surveillance, which was viewed by eastern Bay of Plenty area commander Inspector Pat Tasker after a member of the man's family complained to police.

"I had sufficient concern about what I saw to report the matter to the district commander [Mr Smith] and the Police Complaints Authority," Mr Tasker said at the time.

He described the victim's injuries as relatively minor but said he had been offered medical attention.

The man, reportedly arrested on a charge of unlawfully taking a motor vehicle, was later released on bail.

Police and the Police Complaints Authority launched investigations after the incident.

Authority head Judge Ian Borrin said he could not recall an incident involving that number of officers being stood down.

The police inquiry was done by four investigators from outside the Bay of Plenty.

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