Police say mistaken identity, not racism, behind man's questioning

Police say they weren't being racist when they pulled a Pacific Island man aside for questioning when he got off a bus in Tauranga earlier this week - saying it was just a case of mistaken identity.

In a public Facebook post earlier this week, the man said when he got off the bus from Auckland, two policewomen were waiting for him. (Newshub has chosen not to name the man.)

"I'm thinking, wonder what's happened, so I get my luggage, and out of the 20 passengers, me - the only brown skin - they decided to pick me to question. Never questioned anyone else."

Police said an "extremely distressed" woman on the bus had told the driver another passenger was making threats against her.

"The driver called for police assistance at the next stop in Tauranga due to concerns about her distress," police told Newshub. 

"On arrival, police were directed to a man of interest, and this man was identified as the person talking in the video. On investigation it appears that he was not involved in any threats made."

Video of the incident shows police realised they had the wrong guy once the driver alerted them.

"What's this all about?" the man asks them. "I was asleep on that bus. I don't know what's going on."

Reluctant to tell police his name, he asks why he's the only one being questioned.

"Why don't you ask what their [other passengers] names are? What have I done wrong?"

"That's what we're trying to ascertain," a policewoman tells him, before asking if his ex-partner was on the bus.

"No," he responds, audibly confused.

"Was there some threatening stuff, some language happening on the bus?" the policewoman asks him. "That's the information that we've got from the bus driver."

That's when another officer is told by the bus driver they've got the wrong man.

"The bus driver and passenger tell police he's a white guy," the man wrote on Facebook. "By then all other passengers all gone. Is there racism in the Tauranga police? Sure looks like it."

A few seconds later a policeman introduces himself to the man, pats him on the shoulder and says, "You're all good, brother."

Police told Newshub he was one of two men who fit the description the woman gave, but they had "very little to go on" as she was "in no state to make a statement".

"Definitely mistaken identity."

Police have since dropped the matter, saying the threats weren't able to be substantiated.

"Police apologise to the man for any inconvenience caused."

Newshub has contacted the man for comment.