Rebecca Quilliam

Rebecca Quilliam is senior reporter at the APNZ News Service office in Wellington.

Raid cop aggressive, says partygoer whose neck was broken

Jakob Christie
Jakob Christie

A young Wellington man whose neck was broken when police raided a party he was at can still see the "intense" eyes of the officer he says caused the injury.

An internal investigation of police behaviour at the Khandallah party three years ago cleared officers of any wrongdoing, despite 11 complaints of police using excessive force and being overly aggressive.

Jakob Christie, who was left in a neck brace and on painkillers for three months, wants somebody to be held accountable for his injury.

The 23-year-old, who was 19 at the time, said police were called when gatecrashers would not leave.

By the time officers arrived the uninvited guests had left, but police forced the others out of the house.

Mr Christie said he was struck with a baton by one of the officers as he was trying to leave, snapping his C7 vertebra away from his spinal cord.

"I still remember the look on his face - he had his cap on that was kind of covering his forehead a bit, but he just had this real intense look of anger in his eyes and his teeth were gritted and he just looked real, real aggressive," Mr Christie said.

In a letter to Mr Christie about the internal investigation's findings, Wellington district commander Mike Rusbatch said expert medical opinions found there could be "other mechanisms" as to how the injury was caused "as opposed to a blow", but acknowledged force was used.

"The force used was in the nature of pushing people out of the house and some of these pushes occurred while holding a baton in one hand accompanied by forceful verbal commands."

Officers concluded the method was the most appropriate to clear the occupants from the house "given the threat of assault they considered at the time", Mr Rusbatch said.

He also said bottles had been thrown at officers and their vehicles. Affidavits from some partygoers said no bottles were thrown and one, who did not want to be named, said there was no fighting when police arrived.

"In fact, the people I saw were scared and were co-operating. I was sober and have a very clear recollection of the incident."

A teacher who lived across the road but was not at the party said there was no smashed glass around the following morning.

But acting Wellington district commander Inspector Peter Cowan said police had statements from witnesses who had to clean up broken bottles and broken glass the next day.

An Independent Police Conduct Authority investigation into the incident has yet to be released.


Accusations

Some complaints made about police behaviour at the party in September 2009:

• Assault with either batons or hands.
• Screaming at people.
• Pushing.
• Humiliating one person by pulling pants down to his ankles.
• Threatening to arrest people.
• Manhandling and traumatising females.

- APNZ

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