Taupo cop used excessive force - report

Taupo Police Station.  Photo/File
Taupo Police Station. Photo/File

A Taupo police officer has been found to have used excessive force on a 16 year-old boy in 2014, an Independent Police Conduct Authority report has said.

The report released today found that force used by a police officer on the boy while he was at Taupo Police Station was excessive and contrary to law.

At 10.30pm on November 21 2014, police were alerted to two boys acting suspiciously south of Taupo after they had hitched a ride from a passing vehicle.

Two officers stopped the vehicle and, concerned about the safety of the two boys, decided to take them home. One boy was taken home but the other refused to give police his address and was taken back to Taupo Police Station.

On the way back to the station the officers discovered that the boy had a full can of pre-mix alcohol in his possession. Officer A stopped the patrol car and held the boy down on the backseat in order to remove the can, search and handcuff him due to safety concerns for both officers.

At the station, the boy was told he was going to be taken home to his mother's house. He became upset and told the officers he did not want to go. He then went into an empty cell, followed by the Officer A, who grabbed the boy as he was sitting on a bench and held him against the cell wall by his throat.

Officer B witnessed the incident, and felt that the use of force was excessive, and reported their concerns to a supervisor.

The authority's report found that police were justified in detaining the boy and taking him back to the station so that his current address could be established and using reasonable force to remove the can of alcohol, search and handcuff the boy in the back of the patrol car.

However, Officer A's actions, in grabbing the boy by the throat, amounted to excessive force and were contrary to law.

"The authority is satisfied that the boy was only verbally resisting going to his mother's house when he was grabbed by Officer A and held against the cell wall by his throat." said Independent Police Conduct Authority Chairman Judge Sir David Carruthers.

"This degree of force was not justified in the circumstances. Officer A's actions escalated the situation rather than resolved it".

Area Commander for Taupo, Inspector Warwick Morehu said the matter was now the subject of an employment enquiry under the Police Code of Conduct

"We encourage our staff to speak up if they have concerns and this demonstrates that Police will take action to question and improve its own processes; even when the individual involved makes no complaint and suffers no injury." he said.

Click here for full report

- Rotorua Daily Post

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