Kawhia constable overreacted – witness
Tuesday 15 Jan 2013 6:18 p.m.
A community meeting has been held in the Waikato town of Kawhia following the group bashing of local constable Perry Griffin on Friday night.
It came as video of events leading up to the incident was posted online. Relatives of those involved in the incident say the video shows Mr Griffin overreacted, but that claim has been rubbished by police and other witnesses to the attack.
Mr Griffin is badly bruised and on recuperation leave after he was beaten while trying to arrest 19-year-old Jackie Maikuku. A video given to Fairfax shows the moments leading up to his alleged group assault.
It shows him pointing a taser at Maikuku – who backs away, refusing orders to turn around. The video stops with Mr Griffin saying he's going to get his dogs, and Maikuku challenging him to do so.
Police say at no stage did the officer overreact, despite the claims of family members of the accused, including grandfather Fred Leigh.
“He got sprayed, then he got tasered, and then what happened? All hell broke lose,” he says.
“I reckon it was [Mr Griffin’s] fault, he didn’t have to do that, all he had to was just wait.”
Other witnesses of Friday night’s incident say the relatives’ claims are rubbish, and support for Mr Griffin at tonight's meeting was clear. But Kawhia locals are concerned Mr Griffin isn't getting the help he needs.
Other concerns voiced at the town hui are that Kawhia youth are consuming too many drugs and alcohol, that there's insufficient employment opportunities for them, and that they're bored.
Also at tonight's meeting was Lisa Panapa, the mother of Maikuku and whose husband was also involved in the brawl.
She wouldn't comment on what happened that night but says her thoughts are with the Griffin family.
And police say although Mr Griffin is down, he's certainly not out of Kawhia.
“My main objective is to get Perry and Tracey back into Kawhia and make it a safe community for all,” says Waikato area commander Inspector Paul Carpenter.
The Community Board says it will take the concerns voiced tonight onboard before considering what needs to be done to make scenes like Friday’s a thing of the past.