Police Assistant Commissioner Tusha Penny says police should treat people in custody the way they’d want a family member to be treated after three Hāwera officers were found not guilty of manslaughter in the case of Allen Ball.
Sandra Shaw, Corey Waite and Craig Longworth were accused of being grossly negligent in their duty of care to Ball, who died on the floor of a police cell in the Hāwera police station on June 1, 2019.
Ball was arrested a few hours earlier in a highly-intoxicated state.
A toxicology report states Ball died of an alcohol, tramadol and codeine overdose.
At the High Court in New Plymouth on Thursday, June 3, the three officers were found not guilty of Ball’s manslaughter.
TVNZ1’s Sunday programme asked Police Assistant Commissioner Tusha Penny if the wider police system takes responsibility for his death.
“What happened in Hāwera on that night is defining. Because, you know as we know it’s the first time in our history that three members have gone to work one day and ended up in the courts charged with manslaughter,” Penny says.
Watch the full story on Sunday tonight on TVNZ1 and OnDemand at 7:30pm.
She wasn’t able to comment on certain questions as there are a number of investigations still ongoing into the incident.
However, Penny admitted police can improve.
“The opportunity we have at the moment is to look forward and make sure we are the best we have ever been and I don’t say that lightly.
“But are we the best we could ever be? The answer is no. Have we got work to do to improve? The answer is yes. Are we up for it and is it the time? Absolutely.”
She also has a message to all officers around how they should treat those in their custody.
“Treat those people like you would want your own family treated.”