The use of a taser on the 15-year-old driver of a stolen tractor in Kaiwaka last year was an unreasonable and excessive use of force, according to the Independent Police Conduct Authority (IPCA).
Shortly after midnight on April 16 last year, Police were notified by members of the public in Kaiwaka after an intoxicated 15-year-old male stole a tractor and damaged the garage of a sports ground.
The male was spotted by Police a short time later on State Highway 1 driving the stolen tractor on the wrong side of the road.
He then refused to stop for Police after being signalled to pull over.
The driver continued to flee from Police and was observed driving towards Wellsford in a dangerous manner, travelling no more than 20kph on a highway with a 100kph speed limit, doing several U-turns on the highway and driving on the opposite side of the road, creating a significant safety risk and putting other motorists in danger.
A Police officer in Wellsford attempted to deploy road spikes and the male drove onto the footpath in the direction of the officer in an attempt to avoid the spikes.
The officer then deployed his taser and the male rolled off the tractor, where he was subsequently arrested without incident.
The male did not sustain any injuries.
The Authority found that it was not appropriate for the officer to fire the taser in the circumstances, as the driver did not pose an immediate threat once the tractor had stopped and there were more appropriate actions the officer could have taken.
Waitemata District Commander Superintendent Naila Hassan says Police accept the findings of the IPCA’s report.
“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,” Superintendent Hassan says.
“The nature of Policing is unpredictable and our officers are frequently faced with situations where they are required to make split-second decisions in rapidly-changing, and often dangerous, environments.
“The officer involved in this incident was acting in good faith and with community safety at the forefront of his intentions as he attempted to resolve the situation with urgency, due to the considerable safety risk and danger posed to innocent motorists as a result of the dangerous driving by the intoxicated male on a main highway.
“We have taken on board the IPCA’s findings and accept there were other tactical options available to the officer at the time.”