20 Aug 2015

Police officer stomped on suspect's head

12:05 pm on 20 August 2015

An Auckland police officer who stomped on a suspected burglar as he lay face-down on a road used excessive force, the Independent Police Conduct Authority (IPCA) has found.


Police. Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

Police officers arrived on a street in Mangere East in December last year after reports two people were trying to break into a house.

They spotted two men who matched the descriptions and caught them both.

But one of the men failed to follow the instructions given by the three police officers to put his hands behind his back. The man was taken to the ground where he lay face-down.

He continued to keep his hands out of sight.

But when a fourth officer arrived, referred to as Officer E, he demanded to know what the man was holding before stomping on the man's head.

The authority found that there was a violent application of force on two occasions and it could not be justified in the circumstances.

In releasing today's report, Independent Police Conduct Authority Chair Judge Sir David Carruthers said although there were variations in the descriptions of how the fourth officer acted, at a minimum, it involved the violent application of force.

"The Authority has found that the officer's justifications for his actions are untenable.

"In the Authority's view the officer was using the force complained of simply in order to gain compliance. There were other less violent ways in which that could have been achieved. His actions therefore constituted excessive force, were not justified in the circumstances and were contrary to law," Sir David said.

A police spokesperson today confirmed the officer would not face charges.

Auckland City District Police commander Superintendent Richard Chambers acknowledged the finding and said it was consistent with concerns expressed by other officers at the scene.

"While it's disappointing that one of my staff has been judged by the Authority to have used excessive force during an attempted arrest, I accept that, in all probability, he could have used a less forceful option to ensure the offender complied with the instructions of all officers at the incident."