Kiwi teens in sights of police Tasers
A girl threatening to stab herself was one of numerous New Zealanders aged under 14 ‘‘laser painted’’ by police.
Police have, under the Official Information Act, revealed details around the youngest and oldest people to be Tasered in 2017. The youngest was a 15-year-old. Police said there was a street fight involving a group of young people. While arresting someone else, an officer was assaulted by a 15-year-old wielding a machete. The teen tried to strike the officer with the machete again and was Tasered, police said.
Nine people, aged between 10 and 13, were laser painted – a deterrent where the Taser’s laser is ‘‘painted’’ on someone but the 50,000-volt prongs remain in the Taser. These included one in a stolen car, a boy using a steel pipe as a weapon in a fight, two separate people threatening to hurt themselves with knives, and one boy who – having already assaulted adult family members – hacked at his wrists with a knife.
Three incidents involved teens in stolen cars – one who intentionally hit a police car, another threatened officers with a ‘‘large stick’’, and a third where five people were armed with tomahawks and other weapons. Two were apprehended by a sole police officer and, ‘‘when physically threatened by one, they were shown the Taser and laser painted.’’
Superintendent Chris Scahill said police approached using force on people under 16 ‘‘extremely carefully’’ but if the ‘‘situation cannot otherwise be safely resolved, then it is sometimes required’’.
Anti-Taser campaigner and exMP Keith Locke said Tasers were only meant to be used when police or others were in danger but there seemed to be a couple of cases were this was not apparent.
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Chris Scahill: Police approach using force ‘‘extremely carefully’’.