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Police wrong to taser Greymouth man: IPCA

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 11/01/2017

A junior police officer was placed in an "unenviable" position when instructed by a Sergeant to taser a man in Greymouth, an independent investigation has found.

Police have acknowledged they made a mistake in twice tasering a man with mental health issues after an incident in June 2015, investigated by the Independent Police Conduct Authority.

In findings released on Thursday, the authority found officers used unjustified force against the man following an incident where he allegedly threatened neighbours with a tomahawk.

Officers initially went to the man's home after the tomahawk incident but delayed arresting him until he sobered up because they were aware of his alcohol and mental health issues.

But when they were called back to his home at midnight over another incident the man was handcuffed and led to the police van where the incident unfolded.

The man refused to move his foot from the van cell door when a Sergeant directed a probationary constable to stun the man twice with a taser.

IPCA chairman Judge David Carruthers said the taser should only have been used if the man was "assaultative", which was not the case.

"The junior officer was put in the unenviable position of feeling like refusal was not an option, given the Sergeant's seniority," Sir David said.

Tasman District police commander Superintendent Steve Kehoe said the Sergeant should not have directed the inexperienced officer to stun the man, and had since resigned from the force.

"We understand the pressure felt by the Probationary Constable to follow their supervisor's orders and have provided advice around this matter to them," he said.

The IPCA was called to investigate after a senior officer identified mistakes had been made while reviewing a Tactical Operations Report.

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