Martin de Ruyter/Staff
An arrest in Invercargill in July 2020 led to an Independent Police Conduct Authority investigation. [File photo]
The Independent Authority for Police Conduct found that a police officer used unprovoked force when he put a drunk woman in a head covering and dragged her to the ground.
The incident occurred in Invercargill on July 25, 2020, when a woman was arrested for disorderly conduct.
The IPCA report on the incident was released on Tuesday.
“Headwear is not an approved or current technique used by the police. Since then we have been informed that, contrary to policy, the police were considering a version of the tactic in Invercargill until April of this year,” the report states.
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The IPCA says the officer, along with three other officers, approached the woman and her friends who were drinking in a no-liquor zone.
They asked the women to pour out the remaining alcohol. She added that the officer had a verbal exchange with the woman, in which he used unprofessional and inappropriate language.
Then the woman kicked some empty cans. The officer immediately grabbed her arm and arrested her for disorderly conduct.
The officer claimed that the woman tried to hit him but CCTV did not support his account. Instead, she accidentally knocked his hat when she lost her balance.
The officer then put the woman in a lock on her head and then pulled her back on the floor. The woman appears to have kicked the officer as she struggles to get him to release her.
Once on the ground, the woman’s hands were tied behind her back. The officer grabbed the handcuffs and pulled them off the ground in an unnecessarily harsh manner.
The authority believes that the officer lost his temper and took revenge on the woman’s actions.
He was not acting to defend himself, he claimed. Even if he had acted in self-defense, the force used would have been disproportionate and excessive.”
Another officer in the accident believes that the officer in question lost his temper and experienced “red fog” during the accident.
“The officer’s frustration led to his use of force that good policing could have avoided,” said Authority Chief Justice Colin Doherty.
The use of vertical locking as a means of restraint was not currently an approved technique or tactic, and the officer’s actions “did not meet the high standards we have of our staff,” said Southland commanding officer Mike Bowman.
The woman was later released from the Invercargill Police Station with an official warning.
The police officer will not be charged, but will be subject to an ongoing recruitment investigation.
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