Use of Taser on prisoner ‘unjustified’
Police have accepted the findings of an Independent Police Conduct Authority investigation, which determined the use of a Taser on a prisoner at Hamilton District Court was unjustified.
Police also recognise they were justified in using other force to restrain the prisoner.
On January 26, police were assisting with moving the prisoner from his court cell to a security area when he became abusive and threatening.
The prisoner was then escorted down stairs to the loading bay and alleged the police officer punched him and smashed his head into a wall.
“We recognise the Authority has been unable to substantiate the allegation that the prisoner was punched in the stairwell, and found the officer did not smash the prisoner’s head against the loading bay wall,” says Waikato District Commander Superintendent Bruce Bird.
“We also recognise the fracture to the prisoner’s rib was caused during the struggle with the officers, but was not the result of application of excessive force.
“We have full confidence our officer acted appropriately in this aspect of the incident and his actions were supported by other officers who assisted with restraining this prisoner.
“We also acknowledge the IPCA has deemed the force used on the prisoner at the security area was reasonable under the circumstances,” says Bruce.
After this struggle, three other officers took hold of the prisoner and held him to the ground to help restrain him.
When the man did not comply with instructions to stop struggling, the police officer used a Taser to apply two contact stuns to the prisoner, following which he was restrained in handcuffs.
“We agree with the IPCA that the officer’s use of Taser was contrary to policy and not justified because the prisoner was not directly assaulting or threatening him or others at the time.
“Our staff face an array of challenges when dealing with aggressive members of the public and policing prisoners in court cells can be very challenging.
“It is important that when under pressure, our officers make the right decisions regarding how best to respond.”
Bruce says police have discussed this incident thoroughly with the officer involved and learnt from the mistake that was made.