Cop's technique in taking down boy, 14, was 'inappropriate'

A police officer's technique in taking down a 14-year-old boy resisting arrest in Wellington last year was not appropriate, the Independent Police Conduct Authority has found.


On September 4 last year, the boy was arrested for disorderly behaviour outside a local bar in Tawa, Wellington.

When the teenager resisted an officer's attempt to put him in the patrol car, a police dog handler used force to restrain him.

However, the boy claimed the officer used excessive force by throwing him headfirst towards the ground, resulting in an injury to his face and knee. He also claimed the officer used inappropriate language by swearing at him.

However, in a statement this morning, the Authority said the officer was justified in taking the boy to the ground in order to safely restrain him and that the movement to the ground was not as the youth described.

The Authority said it was a controlled movement which did not result in the injury to his face, but is believed to have caused his knee injury.

The injury to his face is believed to have been caused by this thrashing about once on the ground, the Authority said.

"We believe that Mr X was resisting the arrest and the officer was justified in taking him to the ground," IPCA chairman Judge Colin Doherty said.

"The technique used by the officer was however inappropriate and any risk posed by Mr X could have been better managed by having the other officer present, assist in taking Mr X to the ground in a safer manner."

Wellington District Commander Superintendent Corrie Parnell added that: "Police policy allows officers to use 'empty hand techniques' such as taking someone to the ground when a person is actively resistant.

"While the technique used in this instance is not included in the Police Integrated Tactical Training (PITT) programme, it was a slow and controlled manoeuvre, deployed with the intent of taking the youth to the ground without causing injury."

Parnell said the boy's actions in resisting the arrest indicated he may assault the officers.

"It is clear that the officer involved took the appropriate action to prevent harm to both himself and the other officers present."

Meanwhile, the boy's mum also complained that police did not offer medical care for her son's injuries and did not adequately inform her of what happened when they brought him home that evening. 

However, the Authority found that medical care was offered to the teenager and that his mother was adequately informed of what had happened when police took him home that evening.