Northland police were justified in using a dog to capture a man trying to escape, the Independent Police Conduct Authority has ruled.
The man was bitten by the police dog, causing injuries which required hospital treatment, the IPCA noted.
The incident on May 27, 2021, started when police tried to stop a man driving a vehicle at 100 kmh in a 50 kmh zone.
The man accelerated to 150 kmh, then stopped in the middle of the road and reversed in an attempt to ram the police car.
He then drove his vehicle a short distance, before stopping in a driveway and fleeing on foot.
Police then recognised him as a known offender, a member of the Tribesmen gang, who had multiple warrants out for his arrest, and was known to carry firearms and knives.
He was also known to be the primary aggressor in recent family harm reports, the report noted.
A police dog unit was called in, and the dog handler, known as Officer A, and his dog tracked the man to nearby bush.
The man attempted to run away when Officer A, who was armed with a Glock pistol, ordered him to stop.
"The police dog bit Mr X on his leg, causing him to fall. Officer A said Mr X started to grab at the dog's face, and Officer A shouted at Mr X to let go of the dog and show his hands," the report read.
"At this point, two other police officers arrived, and were able to restrain Mr X. Officer A released the dog's grip on Mr X's leg."
"Mr X" claimed that he did not intend to harm the officer following him and he was just looking for somewhere to stop.
He said he later sat down in the bush by a tree as he was tired and had been drinking. He claimed he woke up to find a police dog biting his leg, and two officers on top of him.
The ICPA did not believe his account, particularly as he knew he was wanted by police and clearly attempting to escape.
"We accept that it was not appropriate for Officer A to allow Mr X to escape. There was clearly a need for immediate apprehension," IPCA chair Judge Colin Doherty wrote in the report.
"We also accept that, given Officer A's distance from Mr X, OC spray, Taser and other 'less
violent' tactical options were not open to him."
There was also a significant risk to police and the public if he escaped, the report noted.
Northland District Commander Superintendent Tony Hill said police agreed with the IPCA findings.
"The IPCA found police were justified in arresting the man and using force to apprehend someone who they deemed a risk to both police and members of the public, as well as having a detailed criminal history and gang involvement.
"We accept and acknowledge these findings," Hill said.