Arrest of elderly man 'unjustified'
Police used "unjustified" force in the arrest of a man outside his New Brighton home.
The Independent Police Conduct Authority (IPCA) has produced a report on the arrest of John Bennett, and found police action was unjustified.
Bennett, 65, was arrested after he went to investigate suspicious noises and ran into a police cordon set up to catch an unrelated fugitive.
On December 16, 2011, the armed offenders squad was called after a report of an armed offender in the New Brighton Rd area and "ran into" Bennett, who was carrying an air pistol and a wooden bat.
Bennett put the weapons down on the ground when asked, but was pushed against a wall, searched and forced to lie on the ground.
He was taken to a police station in his underpants and T-shirt, where he was charged with unlawfully carrying an air pistol and possessing a baseball bat with the apparent intention to use it to commit an offence involving the fear of violence.
The charges were later withdrawn, but Bennett was left bruised and stressed by the incident and made a complaint to the IPCA.
The IPCA said today that the arrest and the force used by police was unjustified.
At the time of the arrest, district commander Superintendent Gary Knowles said he was "quite comfortable" that police had acted appropriately.
Now, Knowles has said the IPCA finding raised a "number of points that will be considered by the district".
A police investigation had come to "a different conclusion" from the IPCA.
"One of the officers involved has already received additional training as a result of performance issues raised in our own investigation," Knowles said.
"The IPCA has also raised some additional pertinent points which will be factored into our reviews of future training requirements."
No further disciplinary action would be taken against the officer, he said.
Police dealt with about 200,000 apprehensions a year, and officers in the field "must often make split-second decisions in fast-moving and often highly volatile circumstances".
"I acknowledge that Mr Bennett feels aggrieved at the treatment he received from police, and I have met with him to discuss his concerns," Knowles said.
The IPCA found that "actions during the arrest of Mr Bennett were unjustified, unreasonable, and amounted to excessive force".
"The failure of all three officers to adequately communicate with each other and consider the circumstances of the incident was unjustified and unreasonable," the report said.
The report found the police should have ensured Bennett had access to suitable clothing and footwear before arresting him.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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