Warning: This article mentions sexual assault and suicide.
Daniel Bond still has nightmares about the night of May 2, 2019.
It was an evening that began with a couple of quiet drinks with a friend, and ended with him being unlawfully arrested and detained.
In between, his truck was searched without a warrant, his dogs were impounded, and he was roughed up with such excessive force by police that he suffered a concussion and required hospital care.
He was also wrongly strip-searched; his pleas to keep his underwear on ignored, the elastic waistband on his boxers pulled so hard it snapped, his private parts touched to an extent he felt violated and degraded.
Police would later drop all charges against Bond and apologise for the way he was treated that night, admitting officers got it badly wrong in multiple ways and breached his rights.
But 29 months on - and despite police upholding his complaint - Bond is still searching for answers.
He still doesn't know what punishment, if any, the officers involved were handed, nor why a criminal investigation was never carried out by police. Nor does he know why he was never offered Victim Support or given compensation.
The Independent Police Conduct Authority (IPCA), the agency tasked with holding misbehaving cops to account, got back to him last week - well over two years after he first raised the incident with them.
All these unanswered questions have delayed him filing charges against the officers involved that night, leaving him frustrated that justice continues to be denied.
The night of May 2, 2019
On that evening 29 months ago, Bond had been hanging out with a friend in the truck he and his two dogs lived in, drinking bourbon in a slip lane outside her parents' home on Auckland's North Shore.
A patrolling police officer drove past the Brown's Bay property at about 11:45pm, noticing a Mazda parked in front of the truck - the car belonging to his friend - had its driver door open and the ignition light was on.
The officer said he saw Bond walk from the truck to the Mazda "drinking from a can and appearing to stumble", and believed him to be the intoxicated driver of the vehicle.
"He comes out and asks what I'm doing, I just told him I'm just chilling," Bond recounts. "I had a can of bourbon in my hand, and he told me to put it into the car in front of mine and put it into the driver's door. So I did what he was telling me.
"And then he told me to hop in the driver's seat, and I was starting to find it a bit weird. I just felt like, what's he trying to achieve? So I asked him why and he kept telling me to follow his orders."
The sergeant asked Bond if he was the driver of the vehicle and demanded he provide his details, which he incorrectly believed he was entitled to do under the Land Transport Act. Bond refused.
At this point, their stories diverge. Bond says he started filming what was happening on his phone, prompting the officer to snatch the device from his hands, while police say Bond turned to grab the keys from the Mazda and struck the officer on the arm in the process.
When this happened, the officer tried to arrest Bond.
"I jumped back then he lunged at me, got me into like a bear-hug sort of choke," Bond says.
"I just managed to slip out of there and run around the car. He pulled out his pepper spray and was on his radio, and within a minute the cars and a paddy wagon just came flying in."
Bond was pepper-sprayed in his eyes, then handcuffed and slammed into the police van by three officers, who he says made him lie face-down in the footwell for the duration of the journey to the police station.
"I was just swarmed to the ground and beaten the f**k out of, to put it shortly."
At no stage of the arrest was he told to get an alcohol breath test, nor was he read his rights. The officers used excessive force in getting him to the ground, and his phone was damaged in the melee.
Bond was taken to the North Shore Policing Centre, where he was unlawfully detained and told to take his clothes off.
"I did that for them, trying to avoid any drama. I got down to my jocks, and then they said 'take those off'," he said. "I sort of pleaded with them saying, 'come on boys, what's already happened is already unlawful enough - I'm not getting naked for you, man.'
"They said 'if you don't do it, we're going to do it'."
He refused, so more officers came into the cell and pressed him against the wall as he resisted. He said at one point during the fracas, he lost consciousness.
Police say they told Bond to remove his clothes so they could put him in a tear-resistant gown - a smock designed to be near-impossible to rip and form into a noose - as his suicide risk could not be evaluated due to his "demeanour and intoxication".
But Bond says it was unnecessary and degrading, and left him traumatised.
"They've taken something away from me that I can never get back. I still have real bad dreams and flashbacks," he said.
"They had a grope and a prod around and really excessively rubbed my c**k and balls and arse… Before then, no man had ever played with my arse, my balls.
"I had four of them hold me up against the wall and rip my undies off me - like, that's pretty serious. I don't know how they managed to, but to snap the elastic [waistband] off, they were real aggressive."
He alleges it amounts to sexual assault, though police are "very confident" this is not the case, telling Newshub the claim had been looked into by a Senior Detective from the Adult Sexual Assault Team.
After this, Bond spoke to a lawyer and was released on bail, then dropped at hospital, where he learned he'd suffered a concussion and a neck compression fracture.
Unbeknownst to him and while he was still in custody, police had carried out two vehicle searches - both of which were later found to be warrantless and unlawful, and were not reported to the Police Commissioner despite it being a statutory requirement.
During these searches, they removed his dogs from his truck and impounded them. It took Bond seven months to get them back through the court system, by which time charges of assaulting and obstructing police had been dropped.
Searching for answers
A week after that night, Bond filed a complaint with police against the officers involved in his arrest and treatment in custody. The IPCA was also notified then, but opted to let police carry out the investigation.
Police told Newshub they met with Bond in February 2020 to discuss the possibility of replacing his cellphone, but Bond instead requested "millions of dollars" in compensation.
"He was advised this was unreasonable and would not occur," said Waitematā District Commander Superintendent Naila Hassan.
"Despite efforts by police, we were unable to reach an agreement around compensation and police have not received any further claim for compensation since this meeting took place."
Bond didn't hear anything more about his complaint until he received a letter laying out the police's findings on August 24, 2020 - more than 15 months after the incident.
In the letter, he was told his complaint about his treatment had been upheld. It admitted police had unlawfully arrested and detained him, that they had used excessive force, and that they should have made their own risk assessments when he refused to take off his underwear.
Bond was advised custody unit protocols had been reviewed to "prevent a recurrence" of what he'd experienced.
He was also told four officers had "received expectation-setting advice" in regard to the part they played that night, and that four others had been the subject of employment investigations into possible breaches of the Police Code of Conduct.
However police said even though they'd carried out their investigations, they wouldn't be able to tell him what the outcome was. They said it was confidential between employer and employee - a comment they reiterated in a statement to Newshub.
Police never mentioned in the letter that a criminal investigation had been opened against any of the officers, and Bond says they phrased things in such a way to water down the actions of officers and paint the incident in a more favourable light for police.
He was also upset the police findings had, in his view, glazed over his trauma at being forced to take off his clothes and strip-searched while in custody.
Dissatisfied with the response, Bond referred his complaint back to the IPCA to investigate. They sent him a heartening response on September 2, 2020.
"The Authority disagrees with some of their [the police's] findings and we are currently completing our process for this," a spokesperson wrote back. "Once we have finalised our decision, we will send you a letter notifying you of our outcome."
But Bond waited, and the police watchdog never finalised its decision. So after more than a year - on September 15, 2021 - he sent a follow-up letter to IPCA Chair Judge Colin Doherty expressing his disappointment.
A week later, he finally received a response with their findings. In a letter, Judge Doherty said the IPCA disagreed with the "inadequate" police investigation on three key issues:
- the force used to arrest him;
- damage to his cellphone; and
- the warrantless search of two vehicles following his arrest.
"There is no allowance under the Crimes Act for force to be used except to execute a lawful arrest... We think that, as the arrest was deemed unlawful, any subsequent use of force by Police was not only unlawful but also unjustified," Judge Doherty wrote.
"You were being unlawfully detained and were therefore entitled to resist by pulling away and struggling to get free from Police. It was not reasonable for Police to respond to this reasonable resistance with force."
The IPCA also found the police should have proactively offered Bond compensation for his damaged cellphone, and should have considered whether the officers were "criminally responsible" for the force they used.
The IPCA raised these issues with police, but the police told them they didn't agree.
The stalemate is another source of frustration for Bond, as the IPCA has no power to require police to make changes to their investigation or the outcomes reached.
"We discussed our concerns in detail with Police," IPCA general manager Sarah Goodall said.
"In the first instance to see whether they might take the opportunity to address those concerns directly and rectify what we considered deficiencies, and also to discuss whether there were any further suitable remedies that could be extended to Mr Bond, to address his concerns.
"In particular, we queried whether Police should consider if Mr Bond might be entitled to compensation in respect of some of the issues raised.
"We sought to achieve agreement with police over the issues where we considered the investigation and findings failed, and how to address those. However, we were not able to achieve agreement."
Supt Naila Hassan told Newshub police accepted the IPCA's recommendation to develop a policy and guidelines covering compensation and ex-gratia payments for cases such as the one involving Bond, and that work on this was already underway.
But she is adamant the employment investigation was "thorough" and the incident had been addressed adequately with staff.
Police made a "number of learnings" from the arrest, she said, but a criminal investigation was never launched as the police's professional conduct team didn't deem it necessary.
Victim Support was also never offered to Bond because he "was not considered a victim under the Victim's Rights Act 2002".
Due to the privacy rules surrounding the employment investigation, Bond has no idea whether the officers were appropriately punished for their actions that night - and he suspects they weren't.
"It's very frustrating. English doesn't really describe my feelings about it all," he said.
"If I was to do what they did, I would be held in custody; an investigation would have gone through; it would have been in the media the day after. I would have been charged and gone to jail for beating and taking somebody back to a location, then stripping them and violating them."
With the IPCA getting back to him last week, Bond is now ready to take the next step in his search for justice and plans to file charges against the officers involved.
But he's irked he's had to wait 29 months to be able to make the move, and says he expected the IPCA to show more urgency in its investigation.
"I feel like I'm the victim here but have never been treated like one… I am speaking out because I don't think any of this is good enough and I am worried about how many other people things like this are happening to," he said.
"Justice delayed is justice denied. I've been at the mercy of what the IPCA and police call their due process, awaiting their findings to allow for supplementary evidence for private prosecution... Their ongoing delays have delayed me filling charges."
IPCA general manager Sarah Goodall conceded the delay in finalising Bond's case had been "undesirable". She says while the process takes time, there were "deficiencies on our part" which contributed to his long wait for answers.
"We have apologised to Mr Bond directly for this, both verbally and in writing. Our staff also tried to keep Mr Bond updated - and spoke to him a number of times - as the case progressed," Goodall said.
"The ability to progress matters in a timely way is always constrained by resource availability, and although we aspire to progress all matters within specified timeframes, this is not always possible."
Bond has now requested the files relating to his arrest and detainment from police, and lodged an urgent request asking for the first names of the officers so he can name them on private prosecution documents.
But he faces another delay, with police advising him they need an extension. Bond has since written to Police Commissioner Andrew Coster to ask why police can't just release the names now.
"I am aware that I have the option of complaining about this, which I have, but police know as well as I do that any complaint will take months to be addressed," he wrote.
"Police know that delays in filing prosecution can negatively impact on charges and police also know there are statutes of limitations on certain offences. This deliberate delay in providing me with names for the purpose of taking legal action against your own is nothing short of an obstruction of justice."
For now, the wait goes on - but the ordeal has made Bond more mistrustful of police than ever.
When he was pulled over in a traffic stop last year, for instance, he immediately got his phone out so he could film the exchange. He told the sergeant about his last run-in with police, and explained he felt he'd been sexually assaulted.
"Well, you are a good-looking man," the sergeant replied.
Police later apologised for the remark and the sergeant was told to be more careful with his "roadside banter" in the future.
But for Bond, it's provided more confirmation that police don't learn from their errors and haven't taken his complaints seriously.