Police won't apologise for dog attack

Last updated 13:09 21/11/2013
Kyle McArtney
MARION VAN DIJK/FAIRFAX NZ
INJURED: Kyle McArtney is recovering after being bitten by a police dog on Sunday night.

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Police say it is regrettable Nelson man Kyle McArtney was bitten by a tracker dog but they have stopped short of an apology.

McArtney was bitten by a police dog, released by its handler, on Sunday night and the district's police chief has referred the case to the Independent Police Conduct Authority.

Yesterday McArtney was visited by Nelson Bays area commander Steve Greally and Sergeant Charlie Parfitt, officer in charge of Nelson Youth Services.

"I thought they may have been coming to apologise but there was no apology. I am disgusted," he said.

They had agreed to disagree on what happened, and had advised he could lay a complaint with the IPCA, which he would do, he said.

Today Tasman police district commander Superintendent Richard Chambers said he had asked Greally and Parfitt to visit yesterday to keep McArtney informed about the investigation and to keep the communication lines open.

"We acknowledge it is regrettable Kyle was bitten and hope he understands the circumstances that led to that," said  Chambers.

It was too early to apologise, he said.

"There are a few more people we know were in the area at the time we need to speak to before we can go that far.

"If an apology is due at some stage it will certainly be given, but at this stage it is regrettable he was bitten but we hope he understands the circumstances we were working in."

On Sunday night police and a tracker dog had been called to investigate a burglary at a Hathaway Court home. A teenage girl has since been charged with burglary.

McArtney was with four friends in a car when they stopped along from Hathaway Court in the car park area near Trafalgar Park so he could go to the toilet.

He said the police dog attacked him seconds after he got out of the car and was dashing toward the bushes.

His friends got out of the car and one of them, Corey Andrew, began filming with his cellphone.

Andrew said he was willing to provide the recording to the IPCA. "I would be happy for them to have it. What happened to Kyle should not happen to anyone."

The dog handler had released the dog, and McArtney said the handler did not have control of it and had to choke it to get it off him.

He has 16 stitches in his leg, which also became infected. That means he is unable to go on a job fishing for three months in Antarctic waters as the boat is due to leave Dunedin today.

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"This injury has cost me about $20,000 and a trip to Antarctica. I have been trying to get this trip for six months."

Chambers said yesterday he had decided to refer the case to the IPCA because he welcomed the opportunity for an independent look at what happened.

He said based on the information police had at the time he was confident the right decisions were made.

Andrew said he made the recording because police told him and his mates to stand back.

"All I could do was try to record on my phone. It's pretty dark but you can hear Kyle yelling to get the dog off. It's pretty bad when you have to stand and watch your mate getting attacked by a police dog."

McArtney said the handler should have had the dog on its long lead and there was no need to put the dog onto him.

The teenage girl is also charged with unlawfully taking a vehicle and is to appear in the Youth Court on Monday.

- Nelson

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