The arrest of a drunken Hamilton man, whose finger was crushed in a police van door, has been deemed just and did not entail excessive force.

In a decision released today, the Independent Police Conduct Authority has ruled the arrest was just, his injuries were accidental, and no excessive force was used.

The man had laid a complaint after his thumb and left index finger, the tip of which later got amputated, were seriously injured during his arrest in the early hours of Friday, April 17, last year.

He had also laid a complaint against the sergeant, who had issued him with a court summons a couple of weeks later, for joking inappropriately about the loss of his fingertip.


The Hamilton man had been arrested after police saw him acting aggressively on Victoria St outside a nightclub.

While the man who was arrested claimed officers had sworn at him and he would have complied if he'd known he was under arrest, police said the man resisted and failed to comply to repeated attempts to subdue him.

While only one officer had gone to arrest him, two others had felt compelled to help resist him as he continued to fight.

The man's injuries happened when he was put into a cell in the police van and his hand got trapped in the door. The incident was reported to the IPCA.

When police became aware of his injuries they took him straight to hospital.

In early May a female sergeant went to where he was living to issue the court summons.

The man had been joking with her about dropping the charges because of his injuries and she responded in a like manner, joking "it is not very fair is it ... we can't finger print you in the future".

The man found the joke offensive.

The man claimed this remark was offensive and later laid a complaint over his arrest and what he saw as an inappropriate joke about his finger.

However, the authority has deemed his arrest was reasonable, police actions were on the whole justified and his injuries were accidental.

It did, however, caution one officer that the use of mastoid thumb pressure was no longer an approved tactic, and deemed the female officer's joke was not professional.

Police have also reviewed the van design and made slight amendments to minimise the risk of future accidents.

Waikato District commander Superintendent Bruce Bird accepted the authority's findings.

He accepted one officer had used a tactic that was not approved and that another did not act in line with police values when communicating with the man several weeks later.

"These are difficult and challenging incidents to deal with," he said. "The subsequent debrief has made our staff aware of other courses of action that can be considered in such circumstances."

Because of employment reasons police are unable to outline any specifics of action taken.