Police use of force in Waharoa arrest incident justified
The Independent Police Conduct Authority has found that Police were justified in using force to restrain two women and a man after his arrest in Waharoa.
On 11 September 2020, a man was arrested for assaulting a relative and damaging property in Waharoa. The man’s wife and her sister were present during the arrest.
The man’s wife alleged Police forced their way into her home without a warrant to arrest her husband and then tried to prevent her from speaking to her husband when they placed him into the back of the Police car. She alleged she was slammed onto the ground on her stomach. The woman, who was pregnant at the time, says she suffered bleeding afterwards and believes this resulted from the force Police used. The woman also alleged Police slammed her husband onto the ground, pepper-sprayed him and assaulted him.
The woman's sister said she too was subjected to the use of excessive force when she was shoulder-charged by an officer, which caused her to fall onto the ground and injure her shoulder.
The Authority found that the man’s wife assaulted and obstructed an officer, who then arrested her. Because she resisted, Police were justified in taking her to the ground to restrain her. She was not slammed onto the ground but went down on her knees and then onto her stomach. Police did not know she was pregnant until after she was restrained, and no officers sat or kneeled on her.
The man forced his way out of the back of the Police car and, in so doing, struck a female officer with his knee, ejecting her from the car. The man made his way to where his wife was being restrained, where an officer restrained him in turn by taking him to the ground. The man was not assaulted, or pepper-sprayed, and Police used reasonable force to restrain him.
The Authority also found that the woman’s sister was not tackled as described rather she fell backwards when an officer prised her hands from the Police car’s door. She was preventing the officer from closing the door to contain the man after his arrest. We also believe the use of force in this instance was reasonable.
“Ms X and Ms Y’s versions differ from those of the officers present. There are also significant material conflicts between the versions of Ms X and Ms Y that cannot be reconciled. On balance, we accept the versions of the four officers as to both the nature and level of the force they used. In the circumstances of the incident the force used was both justified and reasonable.” said Authority Chair, Judge Colin Doherty.