16 Nov 2017

Trespassed man illegally arrested, IPCA finds

12:40 pm on 16 November 2017

A Lower Hutt man who was pepper sprayed by officers trying to serve a trespass notice on him was within his rights to stop them entering his home and should never have been arrested, the police watchdog says.

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Photo: Supplied

The man complained to the Independent Police Conduct Authority that the officer who pepper sprayed him in his apartment complex on 23 December 2015 also kicked him and deliberately forced his arm up behind his back while he was being led away.

The authority has determined the officer did not kick the man and the force used to escort him from the building was not excessive - but it was unjustified.

Its chairman, Judge Colin Doherty, said the complainant, who was trying to close the door on the officers, had clearly revoked permission for them to be there, which meant they were trespassing and the arrest was unlawful.

"This incident deteriorated unnecessarily and that the officers should have taken a different approach when it became clear the man did not want them on the premises," he said.

"The officers should have considered dropping the trespass notice at the man's feet, without the need for things to escalate as they did.

The man was charged with assault for shutting the door on the officer's foot but was acquitted.

Acting Wellington District Commander, Inspector Chris Bensemann, said police had apologised to the man for the arrest and the use of pepperspray, and the officers involved had received further training.

"Our officers make split-second decisions every day and always aim to de-escalate any incident where possible, before anyone is harmed," he said.

"This incident will be used as an example in wider learning for all our officers to avoid a similar incident occurring again."

The full report can be read here.

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