Police appeal for more video footage of assault on policeman at Kawhia

News from NZ Police
A senior Waikato Police officer is disappointed that video footage that could prove crucial to an investigation into the assault on a Kawhia Police officer has been given to the media instead of investigators.

Western Waikato Area Commander, Inspector Paul Carpenter, said both he and the injured officer viewed the images and commentary around them with some concern.

“It is well known that when a matter is before the courts Police are limited in what they can say in the public domain. What I can say however is that having spoken to the officer again today we believe the images, which we must point out are a very selective slice of a prolonged standoff and attack are consistent with statements from both the officer and witnesses.”

Mr Carpenter said the first image showed a large man advancing on the officer with arms widespread with a taser presented, a commonly deployed tactical option with the image appearing to be taken prior to O/C spray being used.

“We have previously stated we understand the officer’s Police issue Glock pistol was dislodged and returned to the officer when he had retreated to the safety of the local firecrew. We believe this image is of the instance when the pistol was handed back to our injured officer while they were retreating from the threat.

“It is always disappointing in such situations when persons choose to litigate issues before the courts in the public domain as has occurred today. At this point I would like to reiterate our request that anyone with still or video footage contact Police so our investigation team can examine it.” Anyone with still or video footage of Friday night’s incident is asked to contact the enquiry team on 07 858 6200. Alternatively information can also be left anonymously with Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.

News from NZ Police – January 13
Support from the local community has enabled Waikato Police investigating Friday night’s assault against a Kawhia officer to identify another offender while withdrawing charges against another man. Western Waikato Area Commander, Inspector Paul Carpenter, said the identity of an attacker described as wearing a blue top or shirt who is alleged to have knocked the officer to the ground with a blow from behind has been established thanks to the public’s response for information in the media.

“Enquiries in relation to formally establishing what role this person played in the attack are continuing and this identification has been as a direct result of assistance provided by the local community concerned about the attack on a person they describe as ‘one of their own’.

“At the same time Police today withdrew charges against a 21-year-old man arrested near the scene of Friday night’s attack. This is as a result of information received from witnesses and other enquiries and is a good example of the robustness of such investigations.”

Mr Carpenter said an indication of the strong level of support for Police in Kawhia was the outcome of a community board meeting yesterday which resulted in a unanimous vote of confidence in the Kawhia Police officer who was attacked.

“There is a public meeting scheduled for 7pm tomorrow to identify how the local community can best assist Police in addressing not just this issue but other matters affecting their town.

“In addition to the support from locals, the enquiry team have been buoyed by the support shown by visitors who were in the area at the time of the attack and it is this combined community support that is making all the difference as the enquiry contiunes.”

The victim of Friday night’s attack is recovering well and is on recuperation leave. The officer reiterated his thanks for all the messages of support and his wish for his privacy to be respected. “As the enquiry progresses I would like to thank all those people who have assisted us with information or with messages of support.

“There are still people we would like to speak to in relation to this matter, particularly people who may have taken still, video or cell phone footage of the incident at about 6pm at the Kawhia wharf.”

Anyone with any information or images of Friday night’s attack is asked to contact Detective Sergeant Steve Hudson of the Te Kuiti Police on 07 858 6200. Alternatively, information can be left anonymously with Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.

News from NZ Police – January 13
Waikato Police investigating a serious assault by five men on a sole-charge officer in Kawhia on Friday evening say they need the public’s help in identifying a man wearing a blue shirt involved in the attack.

Detective Sergeant Steve Hudson of the Te Kuiti CIB said a team of Police had been working in Kawhia today, speaking to witnesses as they work to build an accurate picture of what took place during the attack at the local wharf about 6pm.

“One of the things we have identified as a priority is identifying a person of interest, described only as a male wearing a blue top or shirt who was seen to run across the road to the wharf and knock the officer to the ground early in the incident.

“We would very much like to speak to anyone able to offer any further information on this person, on his identity or what he looked like. At the same time we are again appealing for anyone who took photos or video on their cell phones of the incident to please come forward.”

Mr Hudson said the officer at the centre of the attack is recovering with a sore hip one of his more pressing injuries along with bruises and grazing to his face and arms.

“The officer is grateful for the support show by a number of people both from within Police and the wider community however he has asked that his privacy be respected. We have spoken to several witnesses yesterday and today and the course of events has become clearer and we anticipate speaking to several more people over the coming days.”

If you have information on the identity of the officer’s attackers or you have any images taken of the incident, please contact Waikato Police on 07 858 6200. Alternatively, information can be left anonymously with Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.

News from NZ Police – January 12
A policeman was seriously assaulted on the wharf at Kawhia at approximately 6 pm last night.

Acting Senior Sergeant Gael Mockford of the Te Awamutu Police said an officer was arresting a local Käwhia man at the wharf in relation to warrants. “While trying to arrest the offender the officer was assaulted by at least five males. The Käwhia Fire Service and a number of Käwhia locals assisted the Käwhia Officer.”

Several units from across the District responded to the incident. Three offenders were arrested but at least two more remain at large.

“We would like to speak to anyone who was in the area of the Käwhia Wharf at 6 pm on Friday evening who saw anything untoward, or from anyone who knows the identity of the offenders.”

UPDATE from NZ Police
Describing the latest attack on a Waikato Police officer as both vicious and cowardly, the District’s acting commander said the Kawhia community holds the key in identifying who was responsible.

Inspector Rob Lindsay said last night’s attack at Kawhia’s wharf was the fifth against members of Waikato Police over the holiday period and such incidents cannot and will not be tolerated.

“Exactly what occurred is still being worked through with the priority for the enquiry team being the welfare and safety of our colleague and his family while we seek to identify his attackers.

“Initial indications are that at about 6pm the sole-charge Kawhia officer saw a 19-year-old man who was wanted on warrants to arrest at the town’s wharf.”

This person is known to, and was actively being sought by, Waikato Police.

Mr Lindsay said the officer radioed the Police Northern Communications Centre that he had seen the wanted man, that he was going to arrest him and that he requested back up.

“Cambridge staff at that time were at Ngahinapouri and were dispatched to go to the officer’s assistance, unfortunately even with the best driver’s skills it is still some distance to travel.

“Our staff member has spoken to the 19-year-old and gone to arrest him however a standoff has developed. A family member was called to the scene but instead of helping de-escalate the situation his arrival has made matters worse.”

The officer then sprayed the man with O/C spray (pepper spray) which had a limited effect.

The staff member presented his taser, which was grabbed by the family member; he was able to break free and deploy the taser on the main offender who had rushed at him. As he attempted to handcuff the person, the officer was struck from behind and knocked to the ground.

“From there the officer has been kicked on the ground by a group of what we estimate to be five people and he has crawled into a ball and activated his Officer Safety Alarm (OSA).”

With reinforcements still some distance away both the officer and Mr Lindsay said the OSA device really came into its own, helping prevent potentially more serious injuries.

“Aware of his isolation, North Comms called out the local Kawhia Volunteer Fire Brigade who arrived at the wharf to see the officer still on the ground being attacked. These firefighters and yet to be identified members of the public have then gone to the officer’s aid. Such was the ferocity of the attack that at one stage the officer’s taser was taken and thrown into the water while his sidearm was dislodged and his radio taken.

“Fortunately for all concerned a member of the public recovered the officer’s pistol and took it to the firefighters who secured the weapon.

“A short time later Police reinforcements arrived from across the District and the 19-year-old man, his 49-year-old father and a 21-year-old male associate were arrested without further incident.”

The trio appeared in the Hamilton District Court today on aggravated assault and assault with intent to injure charges.

The injured officer was examined at the scene by ambulance staff and a local doctor and will undergo further medical examinations and Police interviews today.

“He has suffered serious bruising and grazing to his face, arms and body and is currently recovering with his family. The officer has asked me to acknowledge on his behalf the bravery shown by the firefighters and members of the public who’s direct action prevented what could have been a far more serious outcome. It is these people who are the true spirit of the Kawhia community.”

Mr Lindsay said he had been in contact with the Police National Executive who expressed their concerns in relation to the attack and best wishes for the officer’s speedy recovery.

“Here we have a uniformed member of a small community trying to protect that same community. With this being the fifth attack on officers as they try and assist people in need the message needs to be clear that such attacks on our staff will not be tolerated.”

Mr Lindsay said it was up to the wider Kawhia community to work with Police to identify the remaining unidentified attackers and anyone with information on their identity or, who may have captured still video images on the attack, to contact Police on 07 858 6200. Alternatively information can be left with Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.