26 Jul 2018

Police forced to release graphic footage of goat tasered 13 times

5:31 pm on 26 July 2018

Police have been forced to release footage of an officer tasering a goat 13 times which has led to them changing their taser policy.

They had tried to withhold the graphic footage, which shows a goat being tasered multiple times by an officer at a property in Ōāmaru in December 2016.

But the Office of the Ombudsman has found the police were not justified in withholding the video.

Warning, this video contains graphic images

A police statement said a local Animal Control officer had tried unsuccessfully for an hour to secure the goat after it ran through peak morning traffic on the Thames Highway.

The goat had reportedly escaped from an abattoir two days earlier.

The animal jumped several fences, and police were called once it got into a garage.

The police officer decided not to shoot it as he did not want to kill the goat and was concerned about the use of a firearm in a confined area in a suburban street.

The officer decided to use his taser after he failed to restrain the goat.

The video shows the goat standing in a garage for about 20 seconds while an officer takes aim, then fires.

The goat then runs to the other side of the garage and the officer again shocks it.

The animal falls to the ground but gets back up and the officer then shocks the animal again and again while it is stuck in a corner of the garage. The goat is motionless after the third shock but the officer continues to taser the animal.

The animal is then removed from the garage and continues to be shocked while it lies on the ground. The goat can be heard in the video making loud groaning noises. It was subsequently euthanised after a vet attended the scene.

Police have been under pressure to release the video since the incident took place in December 2016.

The Otago Daily Times requested the footage under the Official Information Act but the request was declined by police because they said it could prejudice the maintenance of the law.

In a statement today, police said they previously withheld the video because it was considered too graphic for public release.

An internal investigation into the incident found the officer acted in "good faith" and the decision was made with the "limited realistic options available to one person contending with a distressed goat with horns potentially capable of inflicting serious injury".

Police said its taser policy has since been updated with the guidance that a taser "can be used to deter an attacking animal but not to capture an animal that is otherwise not attacking".

Southern District Commander Superintendent Paul Basham said with the benefit of hindsight the incident could have been handled differently.

"The update to the taser policy means that staff should consider other available options if faced with a similar situation again.

"However, I reiterate that the officer involved was acting in good faith to manage a dynamic and exceptionally rare, if not unprecedented, situation which posed a risk to the public."

An independent investigation by the Ministry for Primary Industries decided no charges would be laid.

The Independent Police Conduct Authority reviewed the police investigation and were satisfied that "police have investigated this matter appropriately and reached reasonable conclusions".