Bay of Plenty cop stood down for assault, holding gun to man's head

Police attend a seperate incident.
Police attend a seperate incident. Photo credit: Getty

A Bay of Plenty police officer has been stood down after unjustifiably assaulting and pointing a gun at an alleged offender.

The Independent Police Conduct Authority (IPCA) released a report on Tuesday looking into the incident which occurred in April 2018.

Police officers pursued a car through Rotorua which was wanted in connection to a Taupō supermarket robbery and spiked its tyres.

Once the car was pulled over, the occupants were handcuffed and witnesses say the officer lunged at the driver as if to punch him. The IPCA found this probably happened.

The officer then kicked a passenger and pointed a gun at his head - and may have accidentally touched it - while he lay face-down and handcuffed, the report said.

Authority Chair Judge Colin Doherty says the officer had no reason to assault the alleged offenders as they were all handcuffed.

"The passenger was not in a position to effectively resist or escape police custody, and did not show any intention to, based on what others observed," he says.

"Although the officer has argued that he believed the passenger did pose a threat of resistance and escape, the Authority does not accept he actually believed this. Furthermore, even if that belief was genuine, it was not reasonable."

After the officer's colleague and several witnesses raised a complaint, the officer was stood down and charged with common assault and assault with a weapon. However, after a jury trial in February 2020, the officer was acquitted.

In a statement on Tuesday, Acting Assistant Commissioner - Districts, Bruce Bird, says the officer remains stood down and their employment process is ongoing.

"Police hold our staff to very high standards and this arrest did not live up to them. The IPCA's findings indicate this officer did not uphold our values," he says.

"I want to commend the officer who spoke up against behaviour he believed was inappropriate.

"I also want to reassure the public that any allegations involving inappropriate conduct of a police officer will be thoroughly investigated and appropriately dealt with."