A police officer who fired a Taser at a man as he lay face-down on the ground used unjustified and disproportionate force, an inquiry has found.
The policewoman, who graduated from Police College fewer than two years earlier, had already twice used the Taser on the angry and abusive man.
The Independent Police Conduct Authority (IPCA) has found her first two uses of the Taser – and her colleague’s use of the pepper spray – were justified, but the third use of the Taser was not.
Two female officers attended a domestic incident involving a father and son fighting in a Christchurch driveway about 9.40pm on April 1, 2016.
When the officers arrived, they found the son standing outside the front door.
The son he became aggressive and began swearing at them.
Noticing blood on the son, the officers became concerned about his father’s safety, the IPCA report said.
The son refused to answer questions and clenched his fists.
The officers went to arrest him for disorderly behaviour, but he refused the probationary constable’s command to get on his knees.
She drew her Taser and warned him she would use it if he did not obey.
The son became angrier.
Believing he was would attack, the probationary constable fired the Taser at him.
When the Taser prongs failed to connect, the son began walking towards the her.
The other officer used pepper spray on him while the probationary constable reloaded her Taser.
She fired the Taser a second time, hitting the son in the torso. He fell forward onto the ground.
About eight seconds later, the probationary constable fired the Taser a third time, while the son lay face down on the ground.
The probationary constable told the IPCA she did so because she thought he was reaching behind his back to remove the Taser probe.
If he did so, they would have no option other than to physically fight with him, she believed.
“The son was not being assaultive or threatening when the Taser was used for the third time. That use of the Taser was for compliance, which is a breach of policy.
“It was not necessary and amounted to excessive force,” IPCA chairman Judge Sir David Carruthers said.