The Independent Police Conduct Authority (IPCA) has found a police officer who hit a tagger in Auckland’s inner-city used excessive force.
Just after midnight on 21 June 2020, police stopped a man spray-painting on a wall in Hopetoun Street.
When officers stopped to speak to the man, he ran off but police quickly caught him.
In its report, the IPCA said it was reasonable for police to apprehend him and bring him to the ground to make an arrest.
But while the man was being handcuffed, he resisted arrest and one of the officers punched his head twice because they believed he had weapons.
The officer then kneed the man’s head because he believed the tagger was trying to take police equipment from his belt.
The man suffered a cut under his left eye, a black eye, and concussion. He was hospitalised for two days.
The IPCA said punching and kneeing the man during the struggle was not justified.
Judge Colin Doherty said “these uses of force were disproportionate to the risk posed by the man, and excessive” but added that officers provided appropriate medical care.
In subsequent media coverage, the man said officers profiled him and used excessive force because he was Māori.
The IPCA did not find evidence the officers profiled him or used excessive force because of his ethnicity.
“This was a volatile and dynamic situation,” said Auckland City District Commander superintendent Karyn Malthus.
The officers involved in the incident remain employed by New Zealand police.