The Independent Police Conduct Authority has found that Police were justified in arresting a woman for obstruction and resisting arrest, in Wellington on Friday, 14 October 2022. Officers used low-level force on the woman following her arrest, which was reasonable and proportionate given the circumstances.
At 7pm, Police received a 111 call saying a group of about twelve young men had been physically fighting in the Freyberg Pool carpark. Four officers attended and spoke with members of the group to establish what had occurred.
The woman approached one of the officers to advocate for the group of young men as she had been in the carpark before Police arrived and did not believe they had been doing anything wrong. The woman repeatedly questioned the officer, challenging the presence of Police. The officer gave her at least three warnings, however, she moved closer to the officer and persisted in engaging with him while he attempted to speak to the young men. She was subsequently arrested for obstruction. The Authority considers the arrest to be reasonable and lawful as the officer reasonably believed the woman’s actions were preventing him from executing his duty.
The officer and his colleague used low-level force during the arrest, to restrain and take the woman to the patrol car, which was proportionate given the woman’s level of resistance.
The woman says, once in the patrol car, the officer held her neck against the window with his forearm, ‘choking’ her. Upon investigation, the Authority accepts the officer believed the woman was about to spit on him so placed his forearm against her ear to direct her head away from him, in self-defence.
Authority Chair, Judge Kenneth Johnston KC, says, “By all accounts, including her own, the woman was in a highly agitated state. We accept the officer’s evidence as to the nature of the force he employed, and in our assessment this was proportionate and reasonable in the circumstances as he believed them to be.”