Former Whakatane police officer awarded $30,000 from employment court
A former policeman who witnessed a prisoner being beaten by four other officers has been as been awarded $30,000 by the Employment Court.
Daniel Sean Ramkissoon testified against his four colleagues who hit Rawiri Falwasser while he was in custody in the Whakatane Police station with batons and using pepper spray in an thirty-minute assault in 2006.
The four officers were initially acquitted by jury of criminal charges from the incident but a subsequent judgement of the High Court found the prisoner was assaulted by the officers and awarded damages.
Falwasser was also awarded $30,000 for the abuse of his human rights.
Ramkissoon said the mood at the Whakatane Station soured after the beating and pressure was placed on officers who provided evidence against the police.
"Mr Ramkissoon and others in a similar situation felt under considerable pressure to modify and tailor their statements and not to give evidence that might be seen inappropriately to favour their accused colleagues," Chief Judge Colgan said.
"One illustration of the pressures placed on the plaintiff and his colleagues was that on the morning after the jury's 'not guilty' verdicts in Tauranga, the then Area Commander rang a representative of the Police Association to advise him that consideration was being given to prosecuting for perjury up to three or four police officers who had given evidence at the trial and who were based at the Whakatane station."
In a bid to escape Whakatane station, Ramkissoon applied for a sergeant role at Opotiki. He was delighted to receive an offer of acceptance for the position.
However, his offer of employment was promptly revoked with human resources saying Ramkissoon was unqualified, even though he had already been accepted for the role.
Colgan said this was a serious breach of Human Resource practice and had a detrimental affect on Ramkissoon.
"As station Sergeant at Opotiki, he would have been unlikely to have fallen or fallen further into the increasingly debilitated state that he did remaining at Whakatane in the period until his disengagement," he said.
"I conclude that the plaintiff was disadvantaged significantly and unjustifiably in his employment by his treatment in relation to his application for appointment as station sergeant at Opotiki."
Ramkissoon was awarded $30,000 for the mismanagement of his application to sergeant. This figure was made up from a salary difference he would have received had he been awarded the position.
Ramkissoon's health went into decline shortly after the decision to revoke the Opotiki position.
He fell ill with a stress-related illness that saw his ability diminished for a two-year period before he was "medically disengaged" from New Zealand Police. He also filed a constructive dismissal case against the Police but this was not upheld.
Colgan said New Zealand Police had acted "fair and reasonable" in regards to Ramkissoon's illness and constructive dismissal did not occur.