Police officer cleared of assaulting teenager

By Edward Gay

Ella Mere Eketone, shortly after allegedly being pushed to the ground. Photo . Before It's News website
Ella Mere Eketone, shortly after allegedly being pushed to the ground. Photo . Before It's News website

The 15-year-old girl who lost two front teeth after allegedly being assaulted by police could now sue authorities.

Ella Eketone was allegedly pushed by a police officer and fell face-first onto concrete at an out-of-control party in Auckland in February.

An internal investigation by police, released today, has found that the officer alleged to have pushed Ms Eketone "used reasonable force".

Ms Eketone's lawyer John Munro said he will be looking at the internal investigation to see what options are on the table for the family.

"I know they'll be very disappointed with the result."

He said one of the options could be to sue the police for emotional harm and the proportion of dental bills not covered by ACC.

Mr Munro said Ella's teeth were taken out by the root, and she had to have surgery.

Ms Eketone's mother, Nicola Healey, said she did not wish to discuss the matter as it was still ongoing.

They would meet with Mr Munro tomorrow, she said.

"I would like to comment, I've got plenty to say, but I just can't today."

She said Ella was "doing okay" but the incident had affected her school work "hugely".

"She's a very good student but she's had a lot of time off because of all of this. It's her NCEA year."

Ms Eketone thought about what happened all the time, her mother said.

"How can you not when your teeth are not there?"

Ella had to take out her temporary teeth every night and put them beside her bed.

She was injured after police were called to an out-of-control party in Howick.

When police arrived they were pelted with bottles as they tried to move-on 150 partygoers.

Pictures of a bloody-faced Ella Eketone were later posted on Facebook by friends who attended the 18th birthday party.

Police have interviewed 80 people over the incident including eye witnesses, neighbours, scientific experts and their own staff.

Counties-Manukau District Commander Superintendent John Tims said residents were concerned about the disorder in the street and police responded appropriately.

"It has been established that the officer concerned used reasonable force given the circumstances faced by police at the time.

"The investigation also found the overall police tactical response was appropriate, professional and proportionate given the scale and nature of the disorder officers were faced with."

No disciplinary action would be taken against the officer, who remains at work.

The results of the investigation would also be passed to the Independent Police Conduct Authority (IPCA) for consideration as it conducted its own investigation.

Police today met with Ms Eketone's family and informed them of the internal investigation's findings.

A spokeswoman from the IPCA said their investigation was ongoing, and she could not say how long it would take.

Shortly after the incident, Ms Eketone's friend Anna Gardiner said the Howick College student was leaving the property as directed by police when she was shoved to the ground multiple times.

"What gives police the right to do this to an innocent teenage girl? Yes teenagers playup and get out of control at parties, we all know this but what gives the cops the right to enforce such violent actions on someone that wasn't doing anything wrong," she wrote online.

- additional reporting by Matthew Theunissen

- NZ Herald

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