Kiwi man Tasered in front of young daughter
POLICE used excessive force when they Tasered a man in front of his young daughter, a report has found.
The Independent Police Conduct Authority has asked for the Police Commissioner to investigate the four officers who it said unnecessarily Tasered Timaru man Troy Reuben then gave incorrect evidence in court about it.
The IPCA today released its report which found that the actions of two of the police officers involved in a suspected domestic disturbance in December 2011 acted in a way that did not constitute good policing practice.
Four officers responded to the December 29 callout, arriving at a Timaru house at 11.20pm.
Two went to check the back of the house while the other two spoke to a young man in the hallway of the house about the reported disturbance, the report stated.
On entering the house the officers saw a bathroom door was open and the shower was running.
After searching the rest of the house and finding nobody else, the officers went into the bathroom where they found Mr Reuben showering with his partner and young daughter.
Despite being asked to leave, the officers remained in the bathroom and the situation soon escalated.
IPCA chairman Sir David Carruthers said the officers should have left the bathroom at that point and waited for Mr Reuben and his partner to get dressed.
"Instead they stayed in the bathroom and as the situation escalated the officers presented a Taser and [pepper] spray."
Mr Reuben and his daughter then went into the lounge and as he gestured to police to leave the house, he made contact with the arm of one of the officers, the report said.
He was then Tasered by one officer while the other officer simultaneously pepper-sprayed him.
The authority found that even if Mr Reuben's contact with the officer was deliberate it amounted to only a minor assault.
The use of the pepper spray was justified but Tasering him was a disproportionate response and amounted to an "excessive use of force," Sir David said.
"The use of the Taser, especially in the presence of Mr Reuben's children was excessive and contrary to law.
"Mr Reuben was later charged with assaulting police and was acquitted at a July 2012 hearing.
The report said that before the hearing, police found that evidence provided by two of the officers involved was contradicted by Taser camera footage but the prosecution was allowed to proceed.
The authority found that both officers knowingly gave evidence at court that they knew to be incorrect.
The report also found that the police prosecutor involved "failed in his duty to ensure correct evidence relating to the case was presented in court".
"Given this action the authority recommends that the commissioner of police commence an investigation into the conduct of all of the officers involved," Sir David said.
Police today apologised to Mr Reuben and his family, "particularly for the distress caused to his children".
Assistant Police Commissioner Allan Boreham said they were investigating the serious issues the report raised and respective employment and criminal investigations into the conduct of all staff involved were already under way.
"Those inquiries have been underway for a number of weeks and were commenced at the time the issues were brought to the district commander's attention.
"While we cannot pre-judge the outcome of that process, what I can say is that both investigations will be extremely thorough, with any relevant findings made publicly available as the legal and employment process allows."