Kiwi teens in sights of po­lice Tasers

Sunday Star-Times - - NEWS - Tom Hunt

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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