Man wins apology after attack by police dog

NEIL RATLEY
Last updated 05:00 08/04/2014
blair taylor
EVAN HARDING/FAIRFAX NZ
SCARRED: Invercargill man Blair Taylor shows off the scars left on his arm by a police dog. Taylor has received an apology from police after an independent investigation found the dog had been allowed to bite him for too long. 

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An Invercargill man savaged by a police dog when he was arrested for burglary has received an apology from police for the use of excessive force.

The Independent Police Conduct Authority has found police were justified in setting the dog on to Blair Taylor three years ago.

But leaving the dog to attack him for 50 seconds was unjustified and excessive force was used when detaining him, the report says.

Showing off the scars on his upper right arm yesterday, Taylor admitted his actions on the night of April 2, 2011, were "stupid", but said the police had gone too far.

He said he was drunk and was not going anywhere.

"They already had me on the ground and were on top of me when they set the dog on me"

The police dog latched on to his arm and did not let go, he said.

"It hurt like f... I was screaming for them to get the dog off."

When the dog finally let go, there were some big holes in his arm, Taylor said. He still had some numbness in his arm and believed there may be some nerve damage.

Three years after he was sentenced to eight months' jail for the burglary of a house, police formally apologised to Taylor yesterday, after the completion of the independent investigation.

However, no disciplinary action was taken against any of the police officers involved.

Taylor said he was surprised by the apology, because he had never expected to hear back from the investigating authority but he believed disciplinary action should have been taken against the policeman who refused to call the dog off as it latched on to his arm.

The report says six officers and a police dog were involved in the arrest of Taylor, who was unco-operative at the time.

The police dog was allowed to maintain a bite hold on Taylor for 50 seconds, during which time he was dragged one to two metres to the footpath, where he was secured, handcuffed and searched.

A small ornament from the house was found on Taylor. He was then taken to hospital, where he had surgery for dog bite injuries.

After his arrest, Taylor raised with the authority the matter of the use of a police dog as part of the arrest.

Southern district commander Superintendent Andrew Coster said police accepted the findings and apologised to Taylor for any additional distress the dog had caused.

"The decision to deploy and persist with the use of a police dog, or any other use of force, is always a judgment call based on the circumstances facing our officers at the time.

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A police investigation found that the dog's deployment was appropriate," he said.

A subsequent review of the police investigation into the incident found no criminal prosecution was warranted under the Crown Law guidelines for prosecution. The authority has not made any recommendations based on its findings in relation to the incident, Coster said.

"However, police will take the lessons from this situation on board to minimise the possibility of any recurrence in future."

- The Southland Times

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