Southern cop on restricted duties after racial slurs

An Invercargill police officer was granted a discharge without conviction after racially abusing a Korean security guard at SkyCity Casino in Queenstown last year.

Constable Jason Te Huia pleaded guilty to using insulting language and received a discharge without conviction earlier this year.

The officer is subject to an internal police investigation, but remains on restricted duties.

It follows Te Huia drunkenly telling the security guard at the casino: ''I can smell you.

''It smells Asian like a dog.

''You have shoestring eyes.

''I see you have no shoe strings in your shoes. Where are your shoe strings?

''Shoe lace eyes. Slant eyes.''

Te Huia verbally abused the victim after he and an associate were denied access to the casino due to their intoxication about 1.45am on September 3 last year.

The associate argued that the pair were not too drunk to enter the premises, but when the victim and two other security staff would not change their position he turned to leave, the judge's decision said.

''The defendant, who was standing at the top of the stairs, began to abuse the victim in a racial manner,'' it said.

After yelling the racial vitriol at the casino staff member, his associate convinced him to leave.

''When the defendant was asked for an explanation for his behaviour, he stated he recalled being at the casino and yelling at the door staff but he could not recall the words that he used ... because he admitted to being pretty drunk and only had a partial memory of that night's events,'' the decision said.

''He said he was both ashamed and remorseful for his actions.''

Te Huia had not previously appeared before the court.

Southern district commander Superintendent Paul Basham said the internal investigation into Te Huia's actions was ongoing and he remained on restricted duties while it took place.

''We hold our staff to a high standard and expect them to model our police values through all parts of their personal and professional lives,'' Supt Basham said.

''We hold our staff to account for their behaviour.

''The employment investigation process is ongoing and I expect this will be finalised in the next month.''

It is the latest in a string of missteps and issues involving Southern police officers recently.

Former officer Jeremy Buis resigned this month after being found guilty of criminal harassment, threatening to do grievous bodily harm and intentional damage following a two-and-a-half-year harassment campaign waged against a Dunedin businessman.

In July, police confirmed an Otago officer was being investigated for an off-duty assault after a complaint was made by a woman following a fancy-dress party.

And Invercargill police officer Ben McLean is accused of murder following the death of his estranged wife Verity Ann McLean (nee Barber).

 

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