Two police officers were found to have committed "an abuse of power" after kneeing and stepping on the leg of a man while he was handcuffed in South Auckland's Ramarama, a report by the Indepdendent Police Conduct Authority (IPCA) said today.
It comes after a man called the police on October 26, 2016, after his ute was stolen by a man in Bombay, South Auckland.
The suspect, who was driving in the stolen vehicle, did not stop for police when signalled to do so, the report said. Police then pursued the driver through the countryside for approximately 15 minutes, during which the driver rammed the police car pursuing him.
The man later surrendered to police on a private farm after stopping the ute and getting out of the vehicle with his hands in the air. He then lay face down on the ground with his hands behind his back as several officers arrested and handcuffed him.
During the arrest, an officer deliberately kneed the man twice in the head, causing facial injuries. While the man was lying on the ground handcuffed, a second officer intentionally stepped on his leg.
The IPCA found that both officers had unlawfully applied force to the man.
"The officers used intentional and gratuitous force against the man when he was in a vulnerable position, restrained on the ground. Their actions were an abuse of power," Authority Chair Judge Colin Doherty said.
The first officer was charged with wounding with reckless disregard. The officer pleaded guilty and was discharged without conviction by a district court judge. He resigned from the police following the incident.
The second officer was sanctioned by police following an employment investigation.
The Authority also raised a number of shortcomings it identified in the conduct of the police investigation into the matter to the police commissioner.
"The public has high expectations on our police staff and we strive to meet that expectation every day," Counties Manukau District Commander Superintendent Jill Rogers said.
"The actions undertaken by the two officers did not meet those expectations and police took appropriate action to address this behaviour."