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Police use of Taser excessive: watchdog

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 8/03/2017

An officer's use of a Taser on a mentally unwell man with his back turned was excessive and unjustified, the police watch dog says.

An Independent Police Conduct Authority report released on Thursday has found a police officer breached policy by tasering a man who was being held down already, following a call out to a South Auckland home in April last year.

"There were other, less violent, options available to the officers," IPCA chair Sir David Carruthers said.

"The sergeant's use of the taser breached police policy and was excessive and unjustified."

The IPCA found the man had been holding a large kitchen knife and threatening to commit suicide, so his family called the police.

According to his family, he had been harming himself earlier in the day, and he may still have had this knife hidden.

He was taken back to the station, under arrest for possessing an offensive weapon.

The man repeatedly refused to take off his clothes for a strip search, and when he resisted officers' attempts, was tasered twice.

Sir David said the officer could have asked other officers for help or continued communicating with the man.

Police said they accepted the findings of the report, and the incident "could have been handled differently for a better result for all involved".

"It's always a challenge to deal with people suffering from health issues when we don't have all of the information," Counties Manukau Police operations and support manager superintendent Tracy Phillips said.

"A number of lessons have been identified from this case and we continue to provide training and constructive feedback to help inform decision making and judgement with our staff."

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