5 Aug 2013

IPCA says police failed in duty of care

6:56 pm on 5 August 2013

The Independent Police Conduct Authority has found that police failed in their duty of care to a man who was left paralysed after his arrest.

Shane Legg, 28, suffered serious spinal injuries after an officer ordered him to climb over a fence while he was handcuffed.

Police in Whangarei pursued Mr Legg in April 2012 after he was spotted speeding, but he abandoned his car and took off up a steep hill. A police dog tracked him, bit him in the leg and he was arrested.

Mr Legg was handcuffed with his arms behind his back and taken down the hill by the arresting officer.

When they came to a nine-wire fence, the officer told Mr Legg to stand on the top wire and jump, but he fell on his head and despite his protests was dragged and carried to the police car. He was later found to have two broken verterbrae, causing quadriplegia.

The IPCA says the officer who told Mr Legg to jump over the fence failed in his duty of care because he did not consider the risks.

The authority has recommended that police reconsider their decision to take no disciplinary action against the officer, and amend the section of the police manual dealing with the safety of handcuffed offenders.

Police accept the findings. Northland Superintendent Russell Le Prou said he would apologise on behalf of police at a meeting with Shane Legg and his family.