Police deny brutality allegations during late-night street …
Manawatū area commander Inspector Sarah Stewart has denied allegations police were heavy-handed when breaking up a brawl in Palmerston North.
Police deny using excessive force to stop a late-night street fight that left a Manawatū father needing facial surgery after he was attacked by a gang of thugs.
Palmerston North man Billy Hales, 27, underwent a jaw reconstruction on Thursday after being brutally beaten by a group of men on an inner-city Palmerston North street shortly before 3am on Sunday.
Hales’ attackers fled the scene before police could arrive and his friends allege officers used excessive force on them in the ensuing minutes.
In a statement to Stuff, days after police were approached for comment, Manawatū area commander Inspector Sarah Stewart painted a different picture of how the night played out.
She said officers responded to a report of a person being hit by a vehicle on Broadway Ave and Princess St.
As they were dealing with this incident, a second situation unfolded nearby involving a large group of people fighting.
“One person was also reportedly being assaulted by others while on the ground,” she said of the assault on Hales.
“Pepper spray was used by officers in order to gain control of the situation.”
Four people were arrested and Jamie Potaka, 42, was charged with fighting in public. He appeared in the Palmerston North District Court on Thursday.
“That person [Potaka] sustained dog bites while police attempted to arrest him. He was then handcuffed and taken into custody, where he received medical treatment.”
Potaka was left with extensive bruising and bite marks, covering much of his torso and upper thigh.
Stewart said police “absolutely refute” the allegations against her staff, who dealt with abuse and aggressive behaviour from those involved.
Officers were unable to take statements at the time due to the level of intoxication among the group, she said.
However, police were attempting to identify and speak to those involved, along with other witnesses. Further charges may be laid.
Potaka’s wife, Sasha, said police statements released to them in court said her husband had pushed someone in the back and tried to continue fighting. That’s when police dogs were ordered to attack.
“That didn’t happen. He wasn’t part of the fight,” Sasha said.
Police spoke with Hales on Friday, but other members of their group hadn’t been contacted, she said.
“We didn’t abuse them. They were screamed at for help. They didn’t even say: ‘Are you involved with this? What happened?'”
Sasha denied the group was heavily intoxicated and said they could have provided statements.
Potaka claimed the earlier brawl had been sparked after a female member of Hales’ group had seen a man hitting a woman. She yelled at him to stop.
Following a brief quarrel, the man left but then returned with about 10 other men. Hales was pulled from the vehicle, kicked and hit with a wooden plank.
Published at Thu, 23 Jan 2020 20:13:00 +0000