Police criticised for tasering teen in stolen tractor pursuit

The use of a taser on a teenager at the centre of a police pursuit involving a stolen tractor has been criticised by the Independent Police Conduct Authority (IPCA). 

The police watchdog was investigating an incident in April 2018, in which an intoxicated 15-year-old male stole a tractor and damaged the garage of a sports ground in Kaiwaka.

He was spotted by police a short time later on State Highway 1 driving the stolen tractor on the wrong side of the road.  Police say he refused to stop and drove towards Wellsford in a dangerous manner, doing several U-turns on the highway and driving on the opposite side of the road.

An attempt to deploy road spikes was made and the tractor was driven onto the footpath in the direction of an officer, who tased the teenager.

The incident involved a Kubota tractor stolen from the Kaiwaka Sports Association.
The incident involved a Kubota tractor stolen from the Kaiwaka Sports Association. Photo credit: Wikipedia Commons

The 15-year-old was then arrested.

The IPCA's report found the officer's use of his taser was an unreasonable and excessive use of force 

Waitemata District Commander, superintendent Naila Hassan said police would take the findings on board.

"While we accept these findings, it's important to acknowledge that this was a dynamic, unpredictable situation, involving an intoxicated male driving dangerously on the highway and posing a safety risk to the public, himself and to our police officers. 

He said the nature of policing was unpredictable and officers were frequently faced with situations where they were required to make split-second decisions in rapidly-changing, and often dangerous, environments.

"We will be communicating the lessons learnt from this incident to our people and the officer involved."