The New Zealand Herald

Officer’s ‘excessive force’ on bailed man


The police watchdog has found an officer used excessive force when he wrapped his arm around a man’s neck while he was released on bail.

In January last year the man, named as Mr X, was arrested for reckless driving in Hastings. He was unco-operative and taken to the station. His behaviour continued during processing and he refused all excess breath alcohol procedures.

Officers said he swore at them and was “extremely difficult to deal with”.

The Independen­t Police Conduct Authority (IPCA) said Mr X was agitated and verbally threatened officers while being released. It used CCTV, without audio, to review the interactio­ns and found force was applied as the man walked away from officers with his hands by his side.

The IPCA said after the man was given back his property and was ready for release the officer followed him and placed his head against his forehead before wrapping his arm around Mr X’s neck as he was removed from the station.

The officer told the authority he “thought he was going to hit one of them, and Mr X was pushing against his head, so he grabbed him and got him into a head restraint”.

“He stated that this was not a headlock, and he is aware officers are not allowed to do that.”

The officer said he acted in selfdefenc­e and that he thought Mr X was going to assault a colleague.

The authority said CCTV footage showed the officer initiated the physical confrontat­ion with the man.

“His force used was pre-emptive, as opposed to a response to an immediate threat of harm. While we accept that Mr X had been verbally threatenin­g and was agitated, at the point in time when the force was used Mr X had been walking away,” it said.

“We do not accept that Officer C genuinely believed at that point in time that he was about to be assaulted, despite him saying he did, because [ the officer’s] account is inconsiste­nt with the CCTV footage.”

The IPCA said the officer’s use of force was excessive and not justified.

Mr X had also complained that he was choked by an officer in an area without CCTV. This was unable to be substantia­ted.

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