Police watchdog says Auckland man was pepper sprayed in the cells unlawfully - 'An excessive use of force'

The Independent Police Conduct Authority says police unlawfully pepper sprayed a detainee during an incident on June 23 last year.

In a report released today, the IPCA said an intoxicated Auckland man was taken into custody after crashing his car into a home in Otahuhu.

Handcuffs (generic). Source: istock.com

"Mr X behaved aggressively as Police transported him to the Manukau Police Station, and officers had to carry him into a cell," the report read.

Eight police staff carried the man into a cell and restrained him on the ground, but as they left one noticed a pair of handcuffs on the ground next to the man.

The officer went back into the cell to get the cuffs and was grabbed on the leg by the detainee and a struggle ensued.

"Another officer entered the cell and deployed pepper spray at the man’s face. ... the man immediately let go of the officer’s leg and Police exited the cell.

"The Authority found that, although force may have been required to help his colleague exit the cell safely, the officer should have used a lower level of force before resorting to the use of pepper spray."

IPCA Chair Judge Colin Doherty said "the officer was focused on subduing the man with the use of pepper spray, which came at the expense of good, sound, decision-making in accordance with Police policy and best practice.

"The Authority considers the officer’s use of pepper spray was unnecessary and, therefore, an excessive use of force."

The IPCA deemed that the force initially used to bring the man into the cell justified.

A police spokesperson said they "acknowledge the findings" and pointed out that the man "had significant physical strength".

They also said pepper spray aftercare was offered to the detainee "shortly after the incident".

Counties Manukau District Commander Superintendent Jill Rogers said it was a volatile situation that required quick action.

"Had the officer not used pepper spray and instead engaged in further physical or manual restraining of the offender, then it was likely to result in either themselves or the man being injured," Rogers said.

Couple who drowned at Auckland's Muriwai Beach were refugees with nine children, one grandchild

The two people who were swept off rocks at Auckland's Muriwai Beach yesterday afternoon and drowned were a refugee couple from Burma who leave behind nine children and one grandchild.

Today police confirmed to 1 NEWS that Kay Dah Ukay, 48, and his wife Mu Thu Pa died while fishing off the rocks at the beach on the west coast.

Police also confirmed the couple had nine children.

A witness at the scene told 1 NEWS a man, Kay Dah Ukay, fell into the water first. The woman with him, Mu Thu Pa, used her fishing rod to try and help him out, before she was dragged in herself.

NZ Herald reports that the couple's three youngest children aged 13, 9 and 7 were with the couple when the accident occurred. 

Another daughter of the couple Dah Htoo Ukay, 25, told NZ Herald her father had been dragging in a catch when he slipped on the rocks and fell into the surf. 

"When they went fishing they got a big fish and tried to take it out," she said.

"He was slipping on the rock and fell in the water.

"My mother also tried to hold the rod. My younger sister tried to grab my mother, but she fell in the water too."

The remaining children reportedly then called for help.

A spokesperson for the Auckland Westpac Rescue Helicopter says they were dispatched to the scene around 2.15pm yesterday and were told one of the patients, a man in his 40s, had drowned before they arrived.

The second patient, a woman, was receiving CPR when the rescue helicopter arrived.

After a period of time, despite all efforts to save her, the patient was confirmed deceased as well, the Auckland Westpac Rescue Helicopter spokesperson said.

The Burmese couple and their older children had escaped from Burma into Thailand 20 years ago.

The family resided in a refugee camp on the Thai/Burmese border for the next 10 years.

They were resettled in New Zealand in January 2008.

Seven of the nine children of the couple are still living in the family home in Henderson.

A man and a woman were pulled from the water around 2pm this afternoon. Source: 1 NEWS


Iwi puts the brakes on statue idea for Auckland's Bastion Point, calling it 'an idea in its infancy'

Ngāti Whātua Orākei is putting the brakes on a proposed enormous sculpture at Auckland's Bastion Point, calling discussion of its installation "premature".

Auckland Council has allocated $1 million of funding to explore the possibility of the sculpture, which would depict the Māori earth goddess Papatūānuku.

An animation by Ian Taylor shows a concept statue in place on Auckland's waterfront at Wynyard Quarter.

Chair of the Ngāti Whātua Orākei Trust Deputy Chair Ngarimu Blair said in a statement yesterday that the concept animation for the statue is only a concept, and further discussion is needed on the potential for Māori tourism across the Auckland region in a wider context.

"Our iwi development arm has raised with the Council and local boards the idea of a culturally significant icon for Tāmaki Makaurau, as part of a wider discussion on tourism and future opportunities," Ms Blair said.

"Takaparawhau/Bastion Point is a significant place for our iwi, and for all who visit and live here.

"Any sculpture idea is just that – an idea in its infancy.

"The Trust believes that any potential sculpture or pou would have to be something that we can all be proud of, and that is well thought through.

"We would need to see a full proposal and consider this in a wider context before deciding to take the idea any further."

Discussion around the statue of Papatūānuku – the Earth Mother – are at early stages, but are already proving controversial. Source: 1 NEWS