Alleged assault of tourist – police acted professionally

Press Release – New Zealand Police

The Waikato’s top Police officer says an internal investigation into the circumstances surrounding the arrest of an Asian visitor vindicates his early support for the actions of the staff involved.Police investigation into alleged assault of tourist finds officers acted professionally

20 February 2012

The Waikato’s top Police officer says an internal investigation into the circumstances surrounding the arrest of an Asian visitor vindicates his early support for the actions of the staff involved.

Superintendent Win van der Velde said during the course of the investigation 18 people had been interviewed including a number of independent witnesses in addition to the Police staff involved.

“What we have found is that though it wasn’t the desired outcome of the officers involved the 56-year-old woman received injuries during the course of her arrest. These injuries, while unfortunate, were possibly avoidable had the woman’s behaviour been rational.

“So far we have spoken to five independent witnesses who all outlined a situation involving a person whose behaviour was described as irrational and uncooperative. Having reviewed the file I am now even more confident the matter was dealt with professionally by the staff involved.”

Mr van der Velde said as the case developed it became clear that several claims, that were publicly tabled, made against the officers involved were not true.

“Four of our staff were reported to have ‘rugby tackled’ the woman from behind, in fact at the time of arrest two of the original four responding staff had already left to attend another job. Two officers remained trying to placate the woman and eventually had to arrest her. At no time was any person ‘rugby tackled’.

“It is acknowledged that there was a language barrier during the course of the incident, however it has been established officers made a concerted effort to put the woman in contact with a person they believed to be bi-lingual to de-escalate the situation but this person wasn’t in a position to offer such assistance.”

Mr van der Velde said the normal course of action for staff in this situation would be to return to the Central Police Station where Language Line assistance could be provided.

“Before this occurred ,however, the woman’s behaviour deteriorated to the point where action had to be taken as her conduct was disorderly. A number of tactical options were considered and the officers were mindful of the woman’s age and build when they took this action.

“When it became clear the woman suffered a facial injury my staff were quick to flag down a passing ambulance to ensure the prompt providing of first aid, it was at this point the officers’ Sergeant arrived. On arrival at the Hamilton Central Police Station and the discovery of her arm injury the woman was taken to Waikato Hospital for immediate treatment.”

In determining the woman’s actions did justify the actions taken Mr van der Velde said the next thing for Police was to ensure the matter was appropriately concluded.

“In consultation with our legal section we have determined the most appropriate course of action in relation to this incident is that the offender be issued a pre-charge warning in line with the Alternative Resolutions policy.”

During the course of the investigation regular contact had been maintained with the woman’s legal representatives and Chinese Consular officials.

“I have also visited Mrs Li. I have informed her and her legal team as well as consular officials that the findings of the investigation are that the offending officers acted with competence, restraint and patience and that these findings will be referred to the Independent Police Conduct Authority.

“To help develop the already existing strong relationship Waikato Police have with the ethnic community in our District my staff will be pushing forward the development of an Ethnic Advisory Board to assist in advising us in the event of similar incidents occurring.”

ENDS

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