5 Mar 2024

Officers illegally stopped car because of man's facial tattoos, used unlawful force during arrest - IPCA

10:35 am on 5 March 2024
Stock photo.

Stock photo. Photo: RNZ / Richard Tindiller

Police officers who stopped a car based on the facial tattoos of a passenger and then used force to arrest the man, have been found to have acted unlawfully in doing so, the Independent Police Conduct Authority (IPCA) has found.

The Hamilton officers "acted unlawfully while arresting a man in a carpark in June 2022", police said.

"We acknowledge the officer who initially stopped the car did not have a legal reason to do so and therefore this was unlawful.

"The officer stopped the car based on the visible facial tattoos of the passenger travelling in the vehicle.

"We also note the following force used to arrest the man was unlawful and not appropriate."

The officers involved remain working for police.

The officer who decided to stop the car was subject to an employment process, the outcome of which was confidential, police said.

Three officers did training "to strengthen their cultural competency as well as further tactical communication training" which was led by NZ Police Iwi and Communities.

"The staff involved in this matter have shown genuine remorse for their actions and have reflected on the impact of their decision making on that day, particularly the initial officer who made the decision to stop the vehicle," police said.

A police spokesperson said it was disappointed it fell short of its standards on this occasion.

"We know we don't always get it right, but we are committed to ensuring that we learn from our mistakes and improve our practice."