A man has died in police custody after being arrested and taken to a police station to sober up.

The 20-year-old man was arrested for breach of peace about 1am on Sunday morning, Counties Manukau District Commander Superintendent John Tims said.

Police had been called to an address in Manurewa by a member of the public, where they found family members trying to restrain an intoxicated man who was violent and aggressive.

Mr Tims said the man was arrested and taken to Manukau Police Station for detoxification.


The man continued to behave in a violent and aggressive manner while in custody. He was placed in a monitored cell and a police doctor assessed his condition.

After 5am he was checked again and found to be suffering from laboured breathing. He was placed in the recovery position and police staff performed CPR until ambulance staff arrived. Paramedics continued CPR for more than 40 minutes.

He was pronounced dead at 6.10am.

"This is a sad and difficult time for all involved,'' Mr Tims said. "Our staff make every effort to assure the safety of intoxicated people while in custody. We extend our deepest sympathies to the family.''

A post mortem examination will be held, and a criminal investigation and policy and procedures investigation are under way. The incident has also been referred to the IPCA and the Coroner.

Police said support was being offered to the family of the deceased, and police staff involved had been referred to welfare services.