Monday, November 18, 2013

No justice against the police

From the Herald today:

Two police officers accused of assaulting a woman in her Auckland home have been discharged without conviction.


In December 2010, the officers visited the property after the woman was involved in a minor car crash, and entered the house when nobody answered the door.

They arrested the woman after Constable Russell forced his way into her bedroom.

The woman then brought a private prosecution against the pair.

Judge Lawrence Hinton found the officers acted in good faith, but did not have permission to be in the house and the arrest constituted assault.

If you or I broke into someone's house to assault them, we'd be looking at the thick end of 10 years for burglary (and 14 years for home invasion if we'd taken a baton, taser, or pepper-spray - weapons - while doing so). If the police do it illegally, they don't even get a slap on the wrist. While its not stated in the story, the discharge without conviction is almost certainly to avoid prejudicing their employment - which is bullshit. Police who break into people's homes to assault them should be fired.

Meanwhile, I'm wondering why a private prosecution was necessary. Shouldn't the police have disciplined their officers? Shouldn't the "Independent" Police Conduct Authority? Or is punishment in a clear case of police wrongdoing simply too much to expect?

Either way, the message is clear: if the police commit a crime against you, you won't get justice by going through the courts. Which will simply encourage people to seek it by other means. Whether that's a Good Thing for our society is left as an exercise for the reader.