Constable Perry Griffin says while he attempted to arrest Kāwhia local, Jackie Maikuku on Friday night, five men assaulted him. The news of the assault has sparked a national debate over arming police officers and increasing police numbers in rural areas.
Te Kāea reporter Harata Brown spent the day in Kāwhia speaking with locals about the event she says some of the family of the accused had expressed shame at the entire situation, however friends of Maikuku claimed a different version of events.
While Constable Griffin says he was set upon by a group of five, some of those who spoke with our reporter claim the police version is very different to the events they witnessed unfolding, with friends describing Maikuku as a good natured easy going 19-year-old who like many other youths his age had made some mistakes.
Witnesses disputing the officer's version of events claim Maikuku was not hostile when Griffin approached him and raised his arms appearing to submit to Griffin. They say Maikuku became agitated when his mother attempted to calm him down and witnesses say it was then that Griffin shoved Maikuku and drew his taser and pistol, which was dropped at some point. It is then alleged that Griffin sprayed Maikuku with pepper spray, which enraged him and resulted in him tackling Griffin.
Witnesses for and against the officer's version of events were expected to gather at a community meeting in Kāwhia to discuss the issue. Police were also unhappy with the witnesses taking the alleged evidence to media instead of police as it had disrupted their ability to effectively investigate all versions of events surrounding the situation.
Reporter: Harata Brown.