A police dog handler whose animal bit a suspected criminal,
who turned out to be an innocent man relieving himself in a
car park, has been cleared today of any wrongdoing by the
Independent Police Conduct Authority.
Kyle McArtney was in the wrong place at the wrong time when
police received a call for a burglary in Nelson shortly
before 11pm on November 17, 2013.
A police officer and his dog were tracking the suspected
burglar when they came across a car parked near Nelson City
Brass club rooms with its headlights off.
The Independent Police Conduct Authority (IPCA) report out
today said the police dog handler, identified only as
'Officer A', started running towards Mr McArtney.
There is a dispute over what happened next.
Mr McArtney says he heard someone yelling "Stop!", before he
stopped and turned around to see a police dog running
straight at him.
He put his hands in the air, only to have it latch on to his
"He says that the police officer did not reach him for
another 30 seconds, during which time he was yelling for
someone to get the dog off him, and that he had only 'wanted
a p***'," the IPCA report says.
Mr McArtney received multiple wounds on his lower left leg
and thigh which required 16 stitches.
Officer A, however, tells a different version of events.
He says that while he was running towards Mr McArtney with
his police dog, he yelled a challenge: "This is the police, I
have a dog, stop or I will let the dog go!"
Officer A says that Mr McArtney ignored the challenge and
continued to hurry away from him.
He then decided that it was necessary to prevent the
"burglar" from escaping.
When he was approximately 40 metres away, he released his dog
with the command 'rouse'.
In releasing the report, IPCA chairman Judge Sir David
Carruthers said it was a "regrettable incident".
"The authority acknowledges that this incident was traumatic
for Mr McArtney, his friends and family and has caused him
on-going discomfort and inconvenience," Sir David said.
But the officer was cleared of any wrongdoing by the IPCA who
said his actions were "reasonable in the circumstances" and
"the only tactical option available to the officer in the
"Although the authority found the officer had control over
his dog at all times during the incident the Authority
recognises the regrettable nature of the injuries sustained
by Mr McArtney as a result," Sir David said.
- Kurt Bayer of APNZ