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Watchdog: Police tasering unjustified

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 22/02/2017
A police officer demonstrating the use of a Taser © Gareth Fuller/Press Association A police officer demonstrating the use of a Taser

A rookie Auckland police officer should never have fired his Taser at a fleeing suspect, the police watchdog says.

In a report released on Thursday, the Independent Police Conduct Authority says the probationary constable shot a man running from officers in the back and leg during a chase in Mt Eden in October 2015.

"Police policy is clear that a Taser can only be used on a person who is assaultive", authority chair Sir David Carruthers said.

"As the man was running away at the time he was tasered, his behaviour had not met that threshold. The officer's use of the Taser on the man clearly breached policy."

The man had earlier led police on a pursuit in a stolen Porsche, before fleeing on foot when the car was stopped by spikes.

The authority said the officer believed the man was trying to get into a house and fired twice to stop him. It accepted the constable was inexperienced and worried about public safety.

The probes hit the man in the leg and back. However the man pulled them out with no obvious ill effects and continued running.

The man was arrested shortly after following a struggle and charged with stealing a car, assaulting police, not stopping for police and carrying tools for burglary.

There was no evidence to support the man's claim the officer had pushed him down a flight of stairs, tried to break his arm and told ambulance staff to "knock him out".

"The force used by the officer to handcuff and control the man was reasonable and justified in the circumstances", Sir David said.

In a statement, police said while the accepted the tasering was a breach of policy, officers often had to make split-second decisions.

"We have acknowledged that while the officer's actions were not in line with policy, he and the other officers were acting in good faith," Auckland city district commander Superintendent Karyn Malthus said.

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