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10 April 2014 - In releasing its report on the use of force by Police in arresting a high-risk man who posed a serious threat of harming himself or the officers at the scene, the Independent Police Conduct Authority found that Police complied with the law and Police policy, and were justified in their actions.
On the afternoon of 12 May 2013 Police received a report of a domestic incident. Police drove to an isolated rural property where they found the man associated with the incident (Mr X) at the top of his driveway dousing himself with petrol and threatening to set himself alight if Police came closer. The officers retreated and the Armed Offenders Squad (AOS) was called. The AOS was briefed that Mr X was suicidal, that his property could be booby-trapped and that he may have access to firearms. Despite attempts to communicate with Mr X using a loud hailer, Mr X did not comply with the AOS instructions and continued to state he would set himself on fire if Police did not leave the property. The AOS dog handler decided to release his dog in order to apprehend Mr X. In doing so, the Police dog bit Mr X on his upper thigh causing him to fall to the ground. A struggle between the officers and Mr X then occurred. Mr X alleges one of the officers used excessive force during his arrest by dropping a knee into his back. Following the incident Mr X was taken by ambulance to hospital and treated for puncture wounds caused by the police dog, a punctured lung and fractured ribs. The Authority accepts that these injuries were caused during Mr X’s arrest.
In releasing today’s report Independent Police Conduct Authority Chair, Judge Sir David Carruthers commended the quick action of officers involved in apprehending Mr X.
“These officers were faced with a highly complex situation and were entitled to use a degree of force reasonably necessary to subdue Mr X and prevent him causing harm to himself or Police.
“In the circumstances the use of the Police dog in restraining Mr X was a necessary and proportionate use of force,” Sir David said.
“The fact that Mr X had doused himself in petrol and was in possession of a lighter and a knife, left Police with very few options other than deploying the Police dog.
“The Authority also found that the use of force by the officer complained of by Mr X was reasonably necessary to restrain Mr X, who was not compliant with Police, and to prevent him from harming himself or the officers,” Sir David said.
Please note: In order to protect the identity of the victim in this case, the report does not identify the arrested man by name nor does it identify the location of the incident.
Police use of force during arrest (PDF, 623kb).