Police witnesses say victim used threatening behaviour

By Juliet Rowan

More police have testified about threatening behaviour by a man who claims he was assaulted by four officers in a cell.

Sergeants Keith Parsons and Erle Busby, Senior Constable Bruce Laing and Constable John Mills are on trial for allegedly assaulting Rawiri Falwasser at Whakatane police station on Labour Day 2006.

Yesterday, other officers who were on duty at the time told the Tauranga District Court that Mr Falwasser had thrown punches at police before he was hit with batons. They said he refused offers of a lawyer and medical assistance.

Constable Wayne Secker, who knew Mr Falwasser from high school, said Mr Falwasser was agitated and "came out swinging" from the cell before being hit with a baton by Parsons.

Mr Secker said Mr Falwasser also threw "full, roundhouse" punches at the metal frame of the cell door.

Mr Secker described another incident with a prisoner in the holding cell who had taken the drug P and repeatedly smashed his head against the then barred walls of the cell. On that occasion, police made the decision to enter the cell and restrain the prisoner with plastic handcuffs for his safety.

He said police were also trying to enter the cell, which now has perspex walls, to restrain Mr Falwasser.

Mr Secker said he also appeared to be on drugs or have a "chemical imbalance", and did not initially recognise his old schoolmate, and pepper spray "had no effect at all".

Constable Sean Ramkissoon also described Mr Falwasser as agitated, saying he reacted badly when officers with shields attempted to enter the cell.

"As soon as the door opened, Mr Falwasser became particularly agitated. He came out punching really, really hard at the shields."

Parsons and Busby had made a plan to use the shields in consultation with another officer who was part of a team trained in the use of shields to subdue prisoners. The evidence of Mr Secker and Mr Ramkissoon followed similar testimony by other officers who also described Mr Falwasser as edgy and non-compliant with police.

Mr Falwasser had been arrested for stealing a car, and the Crown is arguing the four officers on trial used excessive and unreasonable force against him.

- NZ Herald

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