Policeman beaten, 'held hostage' in alleged fleeing driver's car in Hamilton

A police officer attempting to stop a driver in Waikato was "taken hostage" in the vehicle as it sped off on Saturday night.

Police told Newshub the officer was taken for a ride in the passenger side for about 1.5 kilometres.

The officer sustained moderate injuries to his face during the altercation, including his teeth, but has since been released from Waikato Hospital.

The alleged offender, an 18-year-old Rotorua man, was caught hiding up a tree and arrested. He was being interviewed on Sunday, with charges being considered.

The incident unfolded on Norton Rd about 9:35pm on Saturday.

Waikato District Commander Superintendent Bruce Bird said police had stopped a vehicle over a fleeing driver incident in Rotorua. 

But while police organised for the vehicle to be towed, one of the occupants went back to the car. 

"As an officer opened the front passenger's door to intervene, the vehicle began moving," Supt Bird said.

"Initial enquiries established the officer realised he was at risk of being run over or pinned as the car moved and made the split-second decision to get in the vehicle, which then hit a stationary patrol car before fleeing the scene.

"Still inside the offending car, the officer used tactical options, including a Taser, in an attempt to get the driver to stop, while allegedly receiving multiple blows to the head from the driver.

"The car lost control and crashed on Lincoln St, a short distance away and the driver fled on foot."

Police at the scene in Waikato.
Police at the scene in Waikato. Photo credit: Supplied

A witness, who didn't want to be named, told Newshub a number of boy racers were in the Hamilton vicinity at the time.

"There was a Ford Falcon car with a driver trying to aggressively get away whilst a police officer was in the passenger side wrestling to stop him," the witness said.

They described how the cop was punched "several times" in the face during the altercation and "held hostage" as it took off.

"The car launched forward with the police officer half hanging out of the car being dragged onto the road. The police officer managed to get into the car and the driver took off with speed with the police officer inside his car.

"You could see the car swerving as it sped off down the road."

The witness alerted nearby officers about what they'd just seen, saying they "seemed confused" but got in their car and chased.

The witness said they too followed the car then offered medical assistance to the injured policeman, who was "missing teeth and spitting out blood".

"We calmed the police down and gave the officer first aid before leaving," the witness said.

Supt Bird said while the injured officer was given first aid, police, assisted by a dog unit and the Eagle helicopter, tracked the suspect to an area of bush. 

"Thirty minutes later, they located an individual hiding up a tree and took the person into custody," he said.

"It's gravely concerning to see a police officer injured while carrying out their duties and incidents like this demonstrate the unpredictable and dangerous situations police face, often with little or no warning."

The injured officer is being provided with support as he recovers from his injuries and will have the next week off work.

The Criminal Investigation Branch (CIB) and the serious crash unit are investigating the incident.