Video footage from a Police Eagle helicopter shows the moment a man was punched repeatedly by a police officer as he was pinned in a headlock, unable to defend himself.
That man now wants the officer punished for brutality. The Independent Police Conduct Authority agrees the use of force by police was excessive.
• Mercedes driver's complaint about being confronted at gunpoint by Hastings police dismissed
• Officer's move to fire warning shots at offender unjustified: Independent Police Conduct Authority
• Call for audit of police complaints process after Northland omissions
• Police officer's actions at shooting armed gunman were justified - IPCA
The incident involved a 35-year-old man who was being arrested at a property in Red Beach, Auckland, on November 2 last year. It happened about 4am that day.
The IPCA said while attempting to help three other police officers already at the scene, a fourth officer arrived and punched the man in the face at least six or seven times.
The officer doing the punching did so all while clutching a torch in his hand.
"This resulted in the man sustaining a broken nose, bruising to his face, a concussion and ongoing physical, cognitive and psychological effects," the IPCA said.
Video footage from the Eagle helicopter was obtained by the man involved and passed on to Stuff.
An officer in the helicopter can be heard saying at one point: "Looks like they're getting the cuffs on him now. Looks like he's being brought under control."
'CAN WE GET AN AMBO? STAFF MEMBER WITH AN INJURED FINGER'
A short time later, a police officer on the ground radios back: "Comms...can we get an ambo to our location? Staff member with an injured finger. This guy's fought pretty hard."
The authority oversaw a police investigation that ensued and carried out its own independent review of the incident.
"Police carried out a criminal investigation and concluded that the use of force was justified in the circumstances and that no employment investigation was necessary."
The IPCA, however, disagreed with the Police findings and result.
It determined that when the punching started, the member of the public was being restrained on the ground by three officers and was in a headlock - unable to defend himself.
"The authority therefore concluded that the force used by the officer during the arrest was not justified and was an excessive use of force."
The IPCA went on to recommend employment proceedings begin against the officer involved and that appropriate sanction imposed.
The Waitematā District Commander, Superintendent Naila Hassan, said its investigation decided there had been insufficient evidence to prosecute the officer - a constable.
Hassan said police arrived quickly on the scene after multiple alarms in the new subdivision had gone off due to a man attempting to break into properties.
Police tried to arrest the man who "immediately became aggressive".
"The offender punched a constable multiple times in the face and knocked a female police officer to the ground."
Another police unit was called by to the scene by the Eagle.
"When the officer arrived he immediately jumped on top of the offender and during this ongoing violent struggle he has punched the offender in the face a number of times to bring him under control."
It took four police officers to make the arrest due to the "offender's size" and resistance.
The man, 35, was subsequently charged with assaults police, possessing methamphetamine, and a number of burglary charges, Hassan said.
He has pleaded guilty and will be sentenced next month, she said.
Hassan said that while aware of the IPCA findings, police disagreed and stood by its internal investigations as well as the independent legal advice they recieved.
"The Auckland Crown Solicitor supported the findings of the police investigation and review process and agreed that the matter did not meet the evidential test under the Solicitor General's Prosecution guidelines," she said.
"Our investigation involved reviewing Eagle footage, interviewing police staff involved as well as members of the public who witnessed the incident.
"We have taken all of this on board when making our decision.
"We support our officers to make split-second decisions around what tactical options are required at a job they are attending.
"The officer's intent in this incident was to control an offender who was out of control, had assaulted police staff and was a threat to police staff and the wider public."