21 Jul 2020

Officer justified in punching offender - IPCA

1:42 pm on 21 July 2020

The police watchdog has found an officer who punched an offender was justified in doing so.

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On 14 February 2019, a man failed to stop for police after being caught speeding near Foxton.

The pursuit was eventually stopped by the use of spikes.

But when an officer approached the car the offender hit him in the face.

The Independent Police Conduct Authority said the man was holding the officer against the car restricting his breath when he punched back "in an attempt to release his grip".

The report said two other officers involved in the arrest raised concerns about the force used by the first officer during the arrest.

They claimed while the man was on the ground the officer pressed his baton into his neck, pushed his head to the ground and dropped his knee into the man's back.

The authority said there were discrepancies around the various versions of events.

"After considering the totality of evidence, including that of other police officers and the arrested man himself, the authority was unable to substantiate their concerns.

"On the balance of probabilities, their claims were irreconcilable with the rest of the evidence."

Authority chair Judge Colin Doherty said the initial force used by the officer attempting to apprehend the offender was justified.

"The weight of evidence did not support the view the officer then subjected the man to unjustified force during the arrest.

"As we are unable to reconcile the claims of two other arresting officers with the other evidence, we believe they must have been mistaken in what they said they saw."