The mother of a 10-year-old Whakatane girl, who was accidentally pepper sprayed by police when her father was involved in an incident during a traffic stop, says she will lodge a formal complaint against police.
Tiwaiwai Teepu said she is planning on lodging a formal complaint to the police for pepper spraying her daughter, Amy, during the encounter between a police officer and her partner, Jack Kira.
"He was holding back into the chair, telling them to leave him ... He wasn’t pushing. He wasn’t punching. He wasn’t doing anything like that," she said, refuting police reports that Mr Kira was violent.
Ms Teepu said when police could not open the car door, they reached through the window and Mr Kira tried to push their arms out and said: "Stop, get your hand out. You are forcing entry … I don’t like that officer."
As the police officer’s arm became stuck in the window, Ms Teepu said she saw a baton smash the window.
"They were warned that he had family in the car.
“For my daughter to be pepper sprayed, I don’t know … as a mum, and for my innocent child in the back, my question is, when is it appropriate to use that?"
Ms Teepu said she she heard her daughter’s screams during the incident, in which Amy said yelled: "It’s burning, It’s burning. What is happening? My face is burning."
Amy is currently recuperating from the incident and remains in good spirits, despite requiring hospital treatment, which saw Ms Teepu post a photo on Facebook of drains coming out of Amy’s eyes.
Police have apologised for the incident, but added Amy would not have been caught in the crossfire if Mr Kira, who has since been charged, had not resisted arrest.