Police acknowledge the IPCA report into an officer’s arrest of Peter Tuhi, who subsequently died from his injuries, in Levin in December 2021.
Police say they are again extending sincere condolences to Mr Tuhi’s whānau and friends.
Central District Commander Superintendent Scott Fraser says the death of anyone in the custody of Police is incredibly tragic.
“It affects not only the deceased’s family, but the officer themselves, their family, as well as their Police colleagues,” Superintendent Fraser says.
Mr Tuhi had acted aggressively towards Mr W, assaulted Mr Z by putting his hands on his chest and grabbing his t-shirt and was acting in a disorderly manner.
Shortly after Officer A arrived, Mr Tuhi used both hands to push him in the chest, and then grabbed his Police body armour.
The report states that all witness accounts indicate that Officer A spoke in a calm and polite manner to Mr Tuhi.
The witnesses believed that Officer A – the sole officer on scene – behaved professionally and had the situation under control.
Officer A concluded that given Mr Tuhi’s assaultive behaviour, he needed to be restrained.
Police acknowledge while the tactic used by Officer A to restrain Mr Tuhi differed slightly from the standard methods taught to officers, the very nature of attempting to restrain an assaultive person means decisions need to be made in the moment.
Superintendent Fraser says frontline officers are trusted to make these judgement calls using a decision-making technique known as TENR – assessing the Threat, Exposure, Necessity and Response.
“As the report notes, Officer A had successfully used a similar tactic to restrain others on previous occasions,” Superintendent Fraser says.
“However, a series of circumstances in this instance have regrettably resulted in Mr Tuhi’s death.”
This includes the fact that Officer A did not know that Mr Z had taken hold of Mr Tuhi’s other arm, which directly impacted the way Mr Tuhi fell. “This is the worst possible outcome to a situation Police encounter every day – taking someone into custody – and our thoughts remain with Mr Tuhi’s whānau,” Superintendent Fraser says.