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Police tasering 'unjustified': IPCA

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 25/10/2016

A mentally ill Hokitika man was no threat to anyone when he was tasered for a second time while laying on the ground, the police watchdog says.

A report from the Independent Police Conduct Authority has found a police officer used disproportionate and unjustified force when he tasered the man twice during an arrest in 2015.

The man was known as having mental health issues by local police and was being searched for after threatening five residents in the West Coast town on April 23, the report said.

As he tried to flee from an officer, he was tasered in the back, falling over.

While laying on the ground, he was shocked a second time, before being handcuffed.

Authority chairman Sir David Carruthers said both uses of the weapon breached police policy, which prohibits the use of Tasers unless a person is threatening or attacking someone.

"As the man was running away when the Taser was first used, he was not assaultive. The Taser should therefore not have been used," he said.

He said the second use was also unjustified.

"There was no immediate threat of harm to anybody. The use of the Taser was disproportionate in the circumstances and an unjustified use of force."

Sir David has recommended the police now review their policy to make provision for using the weapon to prevent people from fleeing.

Superintendent Karyn Malthus said police accepted the officer had made a mistake in the second use.

"In addition, other officers made errors of judgement in not providing sufficient medical care after the event and in reviewing the incident."

She said an internal investigation into Taser use was under way, but would not comment about the officer's future, saying it was an employment matter.

The IPCA investigation was launched when the man complained a week after the arrest.

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