Mother 'horrified' by alleged police assault
Monday 11 Feb 2013 11:51 p.m.
By Lloyd Burr and Angela Beswick
The mother of a teenager allegedly assaulted by a police officer at an out-of-control party has spoken of her horror at the force used on her daughter.
Ella Mere Eketone, 15, was among a group of 200 at a party in the East Auckland suburb of Howick, when 35 officers accompanied by a police helicopter and paddy wagons raided the Wellington St address in an attempt to shut it down.
Speaking to 3 News, Ms Eketone says she was following orders to leave the party, when she was shoved onto a concrete path by a policeman, knocking her two front teeth out.
“He said ‘F***ing move’ and he pushed me, and I kinda tripped, but didn’t fall,” she says.
“Then he pushed me a second time from behind my lower back, with so much force that I fell flat on my face.
“That’s when I knocked my teeth out.”
Ms Eketone says as the officer walked away, she crawled across the road to her friends who alerted her mother, Nikki Healey.
“Ella was covered in blood, hysterical and didn’t want to show me what had happened,” Ms Healey told 3 News. “She didn’t want to hurt me.”
Ms Healey says she has spent the past two days crying and describes the ordeal as “horrifying”.
“The force that was used [on Ella] was disgusting.”
Two images of Ms Eketone's injuries, including one taken immediately after the incident, were posted to the 3 News Facebook page by enraged friends.
“I was pretty delirious,” Ms Eketone says. “My front teeth aren’t there. Roots and everything. They’ve just been shattered.”
She was taken to the children’s ward at Middlemore Hospital where she spent the night on a drip.
“I was horrified,” Ms Healey says. “They had hurt my baby. It was terrible, I couldn’t believe it.”
When she returned to the scene on Sunday to try and find her daughter’s iPhone, which went missing during the incident, Ms Healey made a grisly discovery.
“I was talking to a lady there, by the concrete, and we looked down and the teeth were right there in the grass,” she says. “We didn’t think they were her teeth, they were huge. The roots and everything were pulled right out of her mouth. That’s an example of the force they used to push her.”
Police have confirmed an investigation has been launched into the allegations and a complaint had been laid with the Independent Police Conduct Authority.
In a statement released Monday afternoon, police said they are speaking with the victim and officers who were present in an attempt to ascertain exactly what happened.
Ms Healey says she has been assured by police that, “their top men are on it and it won’t be swept under the carpet”.
“It is just hard to comprehend that this has happened. [The police] have assured me it was the actions of just one officer.”
Ms Eketone says the officer who took her statement at the hospital was “disgusted”.
“He said all the policemen in his section were pissed off that this happened to me.”
Ms Healey says the family has heard nothing from Victim Support, and she wants police to pay her daughter’s medical bills and replace her phone.
‘They can’t treat anybody like they did that night’
A friend of Ms Eketone, Anna Gardiner, denies the party was out of control.
“It was calm, there were no fights and no one was trashing the house,” she says.
“The cops came and there were way too many of them and it got out of hand.”
Ms Gardiner describes the police presence as “overkill”.
“I don’t understand why they brought the helicopter and the dogs. There was just no need for it.”
Meanwhile, Ms Eketone has a message for police: “Just because they’re in uniform, they have no right to do that to anybody”.
“They need to learn how to deal with teenagers. They can’t treat anybody like they did that night.”
In a statement released to media yesterday, police said they were called to the address at around 11:15pm, having been advised there were individuals intoxicated and passed out on grass verges.
“One police unit completed a drive-by to carry out an assessment of the party. Whilst doing this they observed around 150 people on Wellington St," says Counties Manukau Police District Commander, Superintendent John Tims.
"Around 50 bottles were thrown at the Police patrol car."
Police officers in the patrol vehicle then called for back up and officers moved in to the address and tried to disperse partygoers from the house and surrounding areas.
No arrests were made at the party.