On June 15, 2018, two Police staff were sent to a Parnell address to check on the welfare of two children, after their father had sought advice from Police about his domestic situation earlier that day. When Police arrived they discovered the man had a warrant for his arrest for outstanding fines of $3000. While discussing how to address this matter, the man’s partner and children arrived home.
His partner became upset by the Police presence and both the man and his partner became very agitated with each other. The officer was concerned that if police left the address that the arguing between the two parties could have escalated. He considered issuing a Public Safety Order given the earlier information around the pair arguing, but thought it more appropriate to effect the fines warrant to separate the pair and allow him and his partner time apart to calm down.
The man became upset at the thought of leaving because his young son has cancer and they were only in Auckland so his son could be treated at Starship. He said that he needed to administer medication to his son twice a day. He subsequently attempted to flee from Police at the address and jumped off a balcony, breaking his ankle upon impact. As he fled and jumped over the balcony the police officer tasered the man. The officer, unaware that the man had broken his ankle, tasered him for a second time when he thought the man was about to get up and flee.
Police provided first aid as soon as they became aware of the injury and called for an ambulance.
Auckland City District Commander Superintendent Karyn Malthus acknowledges this situation was not handled well by the officer at the scene and that there were other options available to Police.
“Policing can be very unpredictable and our officers are often faced with making quick decisions in rapidly-changing situations. I agree with the IPCA that this was a judgement call made under pressure and that on this occasion the officer made the wrong call,” says Supt. Malthus.
“The officers involved went to the address to conduct a welfare check of the children, following the report of concern, and did not expect this situation to escalate in the manner it did. Police completely accept the findings that Officer A should not have tasered the man. While the situation was not helped by the man deciding to flee arrest, I would also have preferred it if the officer had given more thought to the stressors evident in the family and to recognising the parents’ concerns for their ill-child’s needs.”
The IPCA’s finding has been communicated to the officer involved and he was given further training following this incident.
Shelley Nahr/NZ Police