Upset by decision not to charge officer

A woman says she has been left "broken" after police informed her yesterday they would not charge a South Otago officer she accused of beating her.

It took seven months for police to  make a decision and the complainant described the ordeal as "an absolute hell".

The 25-year-old woman told the Otago Daily Times she had been at a fancy-dress party in a small town on July 15 last year when the incident took place.

She said the man had previously acted calmly but became enraged when she revealed she had filmed him during an earlier conversation.

The off-duty officer, who wore a wig at the time, was accused of slamming her face into the bonnet of a car before dragging her down a driveway.

In the midst of the alleged attack, the complainant said, he told her he was "a cop" and showed her his police identification.

After giving police a statement, the woman was expecting charges to be laid shortly afterwards.

She said the police took fingerprints from the car and photographed the indentation in its bonnet.

"I thought he was done," the woman said.

But police management had allowed the man to continue working while they investigated the claims, after taking advice from human resources experts.

Within two months, Southern District Superintendent Paul Basham said the inquiry into the actions of the long-serving officer was in its "final stages".

But the case dragged on as the file was transferred to the police’s legal team in Wellington for review.

Supt Basham said "after a thorough inquiry and careful consideration", they had concluded there was insufficient evidence to lay charges.

"We regret the length of time it’s taken to get to this, I’m unequivocal about that," he said.

He told the ODT there were sometimes delays in case resolution because the legal team at national headquarters could request other avenues of investigation.

However, Supt Basham said he could not comment on this inquiry specifically.

The complainant said she was devastated when police visited her home yesterday morning to inform her of the outcome.

"I was broken . . . I was just gutted," she said.

"I used to be a happy person; now I feel isolated and alone. I just feel lost."

The woman discovered a friend of hers claimed they had fought that night, which had caused her injuries.

She believed she was "taking the rap" for the officer.

Since July, the 25-year-old had been all but housebound.

She said when she did venture out to a petrol station, she saw the officer, which left her shaking and vomiting.

"What I want him to feel is what he took from me," she said.

Police said while the case would not end up before the court, there was a process to undertake.

"An employment investigation will now commence in order to establish if there has been any departure from police core values or the police code of conduct. For privacy reasons and given that this matter is now in the employment realm, police are unable to comment further."

The complainant’s mother was convinced the matter would have played out differently had the alleged assailant been a civilian.

"If that had been any other guy he’d have been locked up that night," she said.

She was worried about her daughter, who she said had become a shell of her former self.

"She’s always been a happy, vibrant person. She’s not like that any more. I’m really worried about her," the mother said.

"It’s not over. In my eyes, it’s just the beginning."

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