Injured man recalls cop's 'angry eyes'

A young Wellington man whose neck was broken when police raided a party he was at, can still see the intense "angry" eyes of the officer he says caused the injury.

An internal investigation of police behaviour at the Khandallah party three years ago has cleared officers of any wrongdoing, despite 11 complaints of police using excessive force on the occupants and being overly aggressive.

Jakob Christie, who was left in a neck brace and on painkillers for three months, wants somebody to be accountable for his injury.

The 23-year-old, who was 19 at the time, said police were called when gatecrashers would not leave.

By the time officers arrived, the uninvited guests had left but police armed with batons forced the others out of the house.

Mr Christie said he was struck with a baton by one of the officers as he was trying to leave the flat, resulting in the C7 vertebra snapping away from his spinal cord.

"I still remember the look on his face - he had his cap on that was kind of covering his forehead a bit, but he just had this real intense look of anger in his eyes and his teeth were gritted and he just looked real, real aggressive," Mr Christie said.

In a letter to Mr Christie about the internal investigation's findings, Wellington District Commander Mike Rusbatch said expert medical opinions found there could be "other mechanisms" as to how the injury was caused "as opposed to a blow".

Mr Rusbatch acknowledged some force was used to clear the occupants out of the house.

"The force used was in the nature of pushing people out of the house and some of these pushes occurred while holding a baton in one hand accompanied by forceful verbal commands."

Officers concluded the method was the most appropriate to clear the occupants from the house "given the threat of assault they considered at the time", Mr Rusbatch said.

He also said bottles had been thrown at officers and their vehicles. Affidavits from some of the partygoers said no bottles were thrown.

One of the people at the party, who did not want to be named, said there was no fighting when police arrived.

"In fact, the people I saw were scared and were co-operating. I was sober and have a very clear recollection of the incident."

A teacher who lived across the road but was not at the party backed up the account, and said there were no bottles or smashed glass around the following morning.

Acting Wellington District Commander, Inspector Peter Cowan, said police had received written statements from numerous witnesses, including neighbours, who had to clean up broken bottles and broken glass on the road next day.

"Quite clearly, bottles were thrown."

Mr Cowan accepted that some people at the party did not see that happen.

An Independent Police Conduct Authority investigation into the incident has yet to be released.


Some complaints made about police behaviour at the party in September 2009:

* Assault with either batons or hands
* Screaming at people
* Pushing
* Humiliating one person by pulling pants down to his ankles
* Threatening to arrest people
* Manhandling and traumatising females


 

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