9 Oct 2014

Investigation into police officers

9:17 pm on 9 October 2014

Four police officers, including a Canterbury area commander, and a former police constable, are under criminal investigation for their part in presenting false evidence.

Judge Sir David Carruthers.

Independent Policy Conduct Authority chair Judge Sir David Carruthers. Photo: RNZ

The Independent Police Conduct Authority (IPCA) has today released its findings into an incident three years ago in which Timaru man Troy Reuben was tasered and pepper-sprayed in front of his partner and children by two officers investigating a report of domestic violence.

The report has found that two constables gave evidence about the case which they knew to be wrong, with the approval of at least two senior officers and the police prosecutor.

The two constables had accused Troy Reuben of throwing a shower door at them and using his child as a shield, but the case was thrown out of court after the judge found their evidence was contradicted by taser camera footage.

Today's report reveals the police prosecutor was told to go ahead with the case by a Timaru senior sergeant and the Mid-South Canterbury Area Commander Inspector Dave Gaskin.

Chair of the authority Judge Sir David Carruthers said the officers used excessive force.

The report has also criticised the police prosecutor for failing in his duty to ensure the evidence presented in court was correct.

An internal investigation questioned the decision but a subsequent inquiry by a Timaru senior sergeant cleared staff.

Assistant commissioner Allan Boreham said police accept the findings and have apologised to Mr Reuben and his family.

He said criminal and employment investigations are underway into the conduct of all staff involved in the incident and subsequent prosecution, including the two constables, the police prosecutor and the area commander.

Mr Boreham said the police would not be taking action against the officers involved until the criminal and employment investigations were complete.

"I am convinced that there isn't any risks at the moment for those staff, so we've got those staff, those staff are currently working, they'll be aware of the investigation and once we know the outcome of the investigation then we can make judgement."

Mr Boreham said the public could be confident the investigations will be thorough.

Detective Inspector Greg Murton is leading the criminal inquiry, reporting directly to acting Detective Superintendent Paul Berry at Police National Headquarters.

Reuben wants an apology

Troy Reuben's lawyer says his client wants an apology and help for his traumatised children.

Mr Reuben's lawyer, Jay Lovely, said his client wants counselling for his children, who saw their father being tasered and pepper-sprayed.

His son, who was 10 at the time, needed treatment for pepper-spray.

Police said they had apologised to Mr Rueben but his lawyer said he wanted an apology from each of the four officers who were at his house that day.