Coronavirus: Police officer holds Taser while questioning Rangiora Pak'nSave shoppers about COVID-19 protocol

Two officers confronted the men about social distancing protocol as the queued for food at the Rangiora Pak'nSave.
Two officers confronted the men about social distancing protocol as the queued for food at the Rangiora Pak'nSave. Photo credit: Google Maps

A man was "blown away" when a police officer, questioning him for allegedly breaching social distancing protocol, unholstered his Taser inside a Rangiora supermarket. 

Footage obtained by Stuff shows the officer holding one hand behind his back with the Taser removed from its holster as he and another officer spoke to the men, who were shopping in Pak'nSave at roughly 1pm on Friday.  

One of the men, a gang member who requested anonymity, told Stuff he was "gobsmacked" by the "confronting" situation and felt he was unfairly targeted.

The man had been queuing for fried chicken when he bumped into a friend and their companion. He said the three men waited for their meals for roughly 30 minutes. 

As they queued, a supermarket worker approached the group and asked if they were "ready to leave", the man claims. He protested, explaining they were waiting for their food, when "the police just roll[ed] up".

The man told the outlet the officers avoided pleasantries and asked the group for their names. During the discussion, an officer unholstered his Taser and held it behind his back. 

The man captured the incident on his phone.  

"We're just here to buy some chicken and this guy pulls his Taser out," he narrated. "This guy's ready to shoot... this is crazy... outrageous."

The second officer can be heard questioning the group if they arrived in separate vehicles. 

In a statement to Newshub, Canterbury rural area commander Insp Peter Cooper said the three men allegedly refused to leave the store after being asked by store management.

He confirmed the officer held his Taser behind his back but the weapon was "not presented" and "no arrests were made". 

The men were advised on how to correctly adhere to the two-metre social distancing rule, implemented under lockdown protocol to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. 

"The men were not adhering to social distancing and were from different bubbles. Police responded and offered advice to the men on the importance of social distancing," Insp Cooper said.

"We encourage members of the public that aren’t in the same bubble to stay apart,  we don’t want people congregating at supermarkets or other public spaces. It’s important to stick to the two metre rule to prevent the spread of COVID-19."

However, the shopper claims the group were not told to leave the store and had been "profiled" by police and supermarket staff. 

A police spokesperson confirmed that Tasers can be used as a "visual deterrent" by frontline staff, but may only be discharged if the officer believes the situation has reached or exceeded "an imminent threat of physical harm to any person".