Monday, May 08, 2006

Police sadism

I didn't see the footage on Three news, but this is simply outrageous:

TV3 videographer Murray Job saw the tuxedo-clad man on the ground outside Trusts Stadium, West Auckland, about 11.30pm on Thursday with hands cuffed behind his back.


The man was "dishing out some verbal abuse" but was not a threat to police, said Mr Job.

As his camera started to roll, an officer took a canister of pepper spray from his belt and sprayed it into the face of the cuffed man, he said.


Video of the incident, captured by Mr Job, shows an officer directing a spray directly into the man's face. After a few seconds pause, the man begins twitching and spasming, with his legs thrashing...

This is nothing less than clear and deliberate sadism, and it should not be tolerated in the police (or anywhere, for that matter). The officer involved should be charged with assault and prosecuted to the full extent of the law, just like any other criminal.

Meanwhile, the Greens are calling for a wider inquiry into the use of pepper spray, and this seems to be more than justified. According to the police's own figures, they used it 2000 times in the last year alone. Given that it is only supposed to be used when someone is at risk of physical injury, that seems a little high - and given the stories and now video of incidents like this, I don't think we can simply trust the police's word that they are using it appropriately.


I saw the footage on campbell live on friday.

It looked pretty bloody bad.

there was no sound but it looked to me that while handcuffed on the ground the man was verbally abusing the officers so one of them took out his spary and gave him a good face full.

as he was handcuffed he had now way to defend him self or even avoid the spay. he couldnt even wipe it off his face.

Posted by Anonymous : 5/08/2006 09:21:00 AM

Yeah, it looked pretty unnecessary. The guy was on the ground, not really struggling or anything. Two cops are standing around, talking to a fourth guy, when one of the cops whips out his spray and deals to the guy on the ground. It certainly looked like the cops were under no threat from the guy, and were doing it just to shut him up.

Posted by dritchie : 5/08/2006 11:18:00 AM

The other cop should also be prosecuted if he witnessed this assault by his colleague and didn't react.

Posted by Commie Mutant Traitor : 5/08/2006 02:21:00 PM

I try not be get cynical about cops, because they've got a horrible job to do, one that would drive me stark raving.

But current events are making it harder and harder to be sympathetic to NZs cops.

It's really bloody sad that you need to have a damned TV camera-man on the scene with film rolling before you can get a prosecution for this sort of thing.

Posted by Icehawk : 5/08/2006 10:17:00 PM

Having seen it now, it really is just casual sadism, for which there is no excuse. And the complete lack of reaction by the guy's partner suggests that its entirely normal and nothing worth making a fuss over. Which in turns suggests that this goes rather deeper than the one incident captured on film.

We need that full inquiry now, to get to the bottom of the police's attitude to violence against the people they are supposed to be protecting, followed if necessary by a full-on purge.

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 5/08/2006 10:23:00 PM

"We need that full inquiry now, to get to the bottom of the police's attitude to violence against the people they are supposed to be protecting, followed if necessary by a full-on purge."

Rubbish. What we need is less hysteria like you illustrate. Someone only needs to fart and people like you want an inquiry. I accept it looked way OTT and probably unjustified but we all need to calm down here.

Posted by Gooner : 5/08/2006 11:07:00 PM

I agree that the lack of reaction of the other officer clearly indicates what the spraying officer did was entirely routine. The guy was pretty drunk and apparently mouthing off to the cops, so he was pepper sprayed to shut him up.

Martin Devlin would probably say it served him right and Leighton Smith is almost certainly lamenting the fact they haven't deployed tazers yet, but the fact of the matter is that the use of pepper spray merely to shut someone up is a clear breach of police guidelines for use and warrants disciplinary action.

Posted by Sanctuary : 5/09/2006 09:25:00 AM

2000 a year seems low when you consider a domestic assualt occurs every 8 mintues according to the news last night.

That would mean that the police turn up many 1000s of times a year and have to face off with a violent offender when they may use pepper spray.

But in this case it did look completely uneccessary.

Posted by Anonymous : 5/09/2006 12:32:00 PM

People basically suck, which given that the Police force is composed primarily of people makes this sort of event inevitable.

Coincidently, the victim got charged with resisting arrest.

Oh well, I suppose it's a trivial matter compared to the planting of evidence and intimidating defence witnesses for murder trials that goes on. The really bad stuff's just harder to catch on a 10 second film clip.

Posted by tussock : 5/10/2006 05:37:00 PM