Friday, August 06, 2010


On Labour Day 2006, Rawiri Falwasser was arrested on suspicion of stealing a car. After being put in a cell, he refused to have his fingerprints taken or sign a BORA waiver. And so four police officers beat the shit out of him, then tortured him by filling his cell with pepper spray (there is video of the incident here if you have the stomach for it).

Today, the Independent Police Conduct Authority ruled that that treatment was "unnecessary, unreasonable, and unjustified". No shit. We've already had a High Court ruling to that extent, plus an award of $30,000 in compensation. But the IPCA's ruling may still be useful insofar as it may lead to a change in police policy towards "uncooperative" prisoners. As the IPCA points out, when they're in a cell, the police can simply wait. The question is whether the thugs in blue will actually listen...

Meanwhile, the really appalling thing about this case is that most of the officers have got off scot free. All were acquitted at trial in 2008 (apparently wearing a police uniform allows you to beat and torture with impunity), and while one has since resigned, the other two were either transferred or demoted. That's just not good enough. There should be no place in the New Zealand Police for thugs who beat prisoners. Their continued presence in the police force is yet another reason why we cannot trust or respect it.