Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Rotorua arrest deemed unlawful

NZ Police has acknowledged a report from the Independent Police Conduct Authority (IPCA) which found officers used unjustified and excessive force while arresting a man in Rotorua in 2021.

On 13 September 2021, two officers observed a vehicle driving erratically and decided to stop it as it turned into a carpark of a nearby motel, Police said in a statement.

“Police noted the car had been reported as stolen and questioned the driver about it. He claimed the vehicle was his but as it was reported stolen, the officers decided to seize the vehicle. When the officers checked the driver’s details, they noticed he was to have his licence suspended due to loss of demerit points and proceeded to serve those papers on the man.”

“The man refused to hand over his keys and, after a warning from officers, he was arrested for obstruction. The man attempted to run from Police and an altercation took place.”

Bay of Plenty District Commander Superintendent Tim Anderson says Police carried out an investigation into the incident, including a legal review. Police must apply the Solicitor General Guidelines when considering charges and, in this instance, the threshold for prosecution was not met, he said.

“We acknowledge the IPCA’s findings and accept the arrest for obstruction was unlawful. Our officer had good cause to suspect that the man was either unlawfully in a vehicle or had unlawfully taken a vehicle and so should have arrested him for that offence rather than obstruction.”

“New Zealand Police is an organisation committed to continuous improvement and we always take lessons onboard following an investigation,” says Superintendent Anderson.

“Our staff were acting in good faith when they attended this incident. We acknowledge that there are learnings to reflect on but confirm that both officers remain members of New Zealand Police.

“The independent Police Conduct Authority recommended that Police alter information held on our database regarding this incident to reflect that the arrest and charge were unlawful. This has been completed.”

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