IPCA report justifies force used by Police in Waikato incident

Force used by police officers in an incident after a pursuit of a fleeing driver in Waikato was justified according to an Independent Police Conduct Authority (IPCA) report released today.

According to IPCA Chair Judge Sir David Carruthers, “Police were responding to a complex situation that required various tactics to be used to arrest the two men who fled on foot after their car crashed on State Highway 1 at Tamahere on 28 February 2013.”

According to the report following the crash the two men, one of whom was wanted for aggravated robbery and believed to be in possession of firearms, fled to a nearby truck yard in an attempt to hide from Police. Police were advised to arm themselves and two dog handlers began to track the car’s occupants. When the dog handlers found one of the men, he resisted arrest and was bitten by a Police dog.

However, the man escaped from Police and climbed a fence into a nearby property. A Police dog tracked the man and a short time later one of the officers found the man choking the Police dog to the point where it was unconscious. The officer fired a warning shot and more officers soon arrived and arrested the man. Shortly after, Police saw the other occupant of the car in a nearby paddock and began tracking him with another Police dog. He was eventually located by the Police helicopter and arrested.

Following notification by Police and a complaint from the two men involved, the IPCA investigated the incident.

Sir Carruthers says“The Authority’s investigation has found Police acted professionally and complied with Police policy in most respects during the incident.” 

However while the IPCA found that officers were justified in pursuing the men, arming themselves, using a police dog and firing a warning shot they were not justified in, “presenting a Taser at one of the men for 18 minutes when he was handcuffed, no longer resisting arrest, and there were numerous other officers around to restrain him if needed. The Authority has also found that Police communication during the incident should have been clearer, which would have led to better command and control of the whole operation.”

According to the report, Police are reviewing two policies in relation to the incident and the IPCA has made no recommendations.