Lone officer attacked on duty

Photo / File
Photo / File

A Kawhia policeman was set upon by up to five people as he attempted to arrest a man for an outstanding warrant.

The attackers knocked the lone policeman to the ground, kicking him as well as taking his taser and radio and dislodging his sidearm.

Inspector Rob Lindsay said that last night's attack was the fifth against members of Waikato police over the holiday period.

"Exactly what has occurred is still being worked through with the priority for the inquiry team being the welfare and safety of our colleague and his family while we seek to identify his attackers.

"Initial indications are that at about 6pm the sole-charge Kawhia officer saw a 19-year-old man who was wanted on warrants to arrest."

"Cambridge staff at that time were at Ngahinapouri and were dispatched to go to the officer's assistance, unfortunately even with the best driver's skills it is still some distance to travel.

"Our staff member has spoken to the 19-year-old and gone to arrest him however a standoff has developed."

Mr Lindsay said the man's father was called to the scene, but instead of helping de-escalate the situation, his arrival made matters worse.

The offender was sprayed with pepper spray which had limited effect. When the officer presented his taser, the offender's father grabbed it, though the officer did manage to deploy it at the main offender.

As the officer attempted to handcuff the main offender he was struck from behind and knocked to the ground.

"From there the officer has been kicked on the ground by a group of what we estimate to be five people and he has crawled into a ball and activated his Officer Safety Alarm."

With reinforcements still some distance away both the officer and Mr Lindsay said the OSA device really came into its own, helping prevent potentially more serious injuries.

"Aware of his isolation North Comms have called out the local Kawhia Volunteer Fire Brigade who arrived at the wharf to see the officer still on the ground being attacked. These firefighters and yet to be identified members of the public have then gone to the officer's aid,"

Mr Lindsay said that such was the ferocity of the attack that at one stage the officer's taser was taken and thrown into the water while his sidearm was dislodged and his radio taken.

"Fortunately for all concerned a member of the public recovered the officer's pistol and took it to the firefighters who secured the weapon.

"A short time later Police reinforcements arrived from across the District and the 19-year-old man, his 49-year-old father and a 21-year-old male associate were arrested without further incident."

The trio appeared in the Hamilton District Court today on aggravated assault and assault with intent to injure charges.

The injured officer was examined at the scene by ambulance staff and a local doctor and will undergo further medical examinations and police interviews today.

"He has suffered serious bruising and grazing to his face, arms and body and is currently recovering with his family.

"The officer has asked me to acknowledge on his behalf the bravery shown by the firefighters and members of the public whose direct action prevented what could have been a far more serious outcome. It is these people who are the true spirit of the Kawhia community."

Mr Lindsay said he had been in contact with the Police National Executive who expressed their concerns in relation to the attack and best wishes for the officer's speedy recovery.

"Here we have a uniformed member of a small community trying to protect that same community. With this being the fifth attack on officers as they try and assist people in need the message needs to be clear that such attacks on our staff will not be tolerated."

Mr Lindsay said it was up to the wider Kawhia community to work with Police to identify the remaining unidentified attackers and anyone with information on their identity or, who may have captured still video images on the attack, to contact Police on 07 858 6200. Alternatively information can be left with Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.

- NZ Herald

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