Police officer who dislocated offender's vertebrae during arrest justified - IPCA

File photo
File photo Photo credit: RNZ


The Independent Police Conduct Authority has ruled that an officer who injured a youth offender did so by accident.

The officer injured the young man's face and spine when they both fell to the ground.

Two youths tried to steal a motor-scooter on Auckland's Karangahape Road in May last year, but were chased away by an off-duty police officer.

But when the officer caught one of them, they fell onto the youth, who suffered "abrasions to his face and injuries to two vertebrae in his lower spine", the report said.

"One was fractured and the other dislocated."

A relative later complained the officer had deliberately tackled the man, pinned him to the ground, and forced their knee onto his back.

However, witnesses disputed that claim. "[Two witnesses] do not recall seeing Officer A falling or kneeling with his knee on [the youth's] back," the report said.

Although the IPCA determined the officer and youth had lost their footing, three witnesses described the incident as a tackle.

It was "almost like a rugby kind of dive tackle from behind", said one. Another said it "looked like [the youth] was being pushed".

Ultimately, the IPCA concluded that the officer did not press their knee onto the youth's back and that their use of force was justified, considering the young man was fleeing arrest.

The officer also transported the youth directly to the hospital, instead of waiting for an ambulance. The IPCA said this was justified because the ambulance would have been delayed.

Police accepted the report's findings and said the officer had followed protocol and "remains a valued member of New Zealand police".