Shoot to arrest: the NZ Police and the IPCA
Another tarnishing of the NZ Police image and a worse tarnishing for the hopelessly misnamed Independent Police Conduct Authority. The essence of this troubling case is that a precedent has now been set that a stun gun can be used to make an arrest and gain compliance - not just to protect others. The taser was supposed to be a non-lethal alternative to a firearm, but they are being used far beyond their brief. This was the concern at the time they were introduced and so it has come to pass. The question is 'would you have used a firearm in this instance?' the answer must be no - and so the answer to whether the officer should have used a stun gun must also be no.
The police conduct watchdog has cleared an officer accused of inappropriately using a Taser to arrest a man who was backing away when he was zapped with the high-voltage weapon.
Bruce Robert Roulston made a formal complaint against the officer last year after he was Tasered in the driveway of his Christchurch home in 2010.
The Independent Police Conduct Authority (IPCA), in its report released today, has found the officer was justified in using the Taser.
The complaint was made after police released footage from the Taser, which showed Roulston backing away from the officer about 12 seconds before the Taser was fired.
The two officers sent to the scene were named as Officer A and Officer B by the IPCA.
Officer A was trained in using a Taser and was granted permission from his supervisor to use the Taser if necessary.
At the home, Roulston swore at the police and threw a brick at them, which bounced and hit Officer A in the shin.
He threw a second brick at the officers before Officer A drew his Taser. He told Roulston four times to get down on the ground but he did not comply.
"After his efforts to communicate with Mr Roulston had failed, Officer A discharged his Taser once," the IPCA said.
"Mr Roulston fell backwards, hitting his head on the driveway."
The authority said the officer "believed on reasonable grounds that Mr Roulston was assaultive, posed a real threat of physical injury and could not be arrested using less force".
So the IPCA are playing the cover-up Officer A and officer B routine. They are already defending the constables rather than finding the truth. The language of "discharged his taser" is obviously NZ Police language, not that of independent investagators. They are rubber stamping the police's own internal review and nothing more.
The facts are he was, unarmed, (shirtless too from what I recall), on his own property and walking backwards with his hands above his head when the constable (who was sore about being hit in the shin with a brick he threw earlier) pulled a taser and advanced on him - escalating the situation recklessly. He shot him with the stun gun because he was unsure he could gain his arrest otherwise - that is a plain, simple misuse of that weapon. And yet the IPCA lets them off. Another pathetic day in NZ.
And last night's horrifying expose by TV3's, 3rd Degree show, demonstrating Detective Rutherford's fit-up of Teina Pora for a Malcolm Rewa's rape and murder of Susan Burdett makes this an appalling week for the NZ Police and confidence in this country's justice system.