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Arrested by mistake

The police action on Makoura College student Peter Hing Jr was captured on a witness’ phone.PHOTO/SUPPLIED

TIMES-AGE EXCLUSIVE

16-year-old student’s afternoon of horror
Makoura College student Peter Hing Jr had just finished playing basketball at lunchtime when he was surrounded by half a dozen police offers and arrested twice for a crime he did not commit. EMMA BROWN reports.

It was just after midday on Friday, October 25, when the 16-year-old left the school gym where he had been playing basketball with friends.

Several police officers approached him, yelling, “Get on the f***ing ground – you’re under arrest”, Peter told his mum Liz Hing.

They then grabbed him by his shirt, pushed him against a school fence, and handcuffed him.

He was not told what he had been arrested for, was not asked his name, and was not read his rights, Liz Hing told the Times-Age yesterday.

The officers had mistaken him for an 18-year-old robbery suspect who had escaped from custody earlier in the day, fleeing by car.

When Peter recounted the arrest to his mother, she asked him if he was ever physical with the officers, and he said, “No” – the only thing he did was pull his shirt from the officer’s grip.

By this time, Makoura College assistant principal Don Miller was at the scene and asked what was going on.

Because Peter was wearing mufti playing basketball, police asked Miller if the teen was a student, which Miller confirmed.

They then uncuffed Peter and asked Miller to confirm he had been at school all day, which he was unable to do without records.

A dog handler then approached the scene, yelling that he had seen Peter in the fleeing car, and to arrest him.

Peter yelled back that he was not in the car and refuted what he was being accused of.

The dog handler was adamant that he had seen Peter in the car and so police officers again pushed him into the fence and cuffed him.

They escorted him out the school driveway to the police car and drove him down River Rd.

Notification came over the radio that the actual suspect had been arrested at a different location.

Not until this point did the police officers ask Peter what his name was.

Police drove him home and dropped him there.

They did not contact his parents regarding the incident.

A video of the police escorting Peter off school grounds was taken by one of his cousins who had been driving past the school and stopped when they recognised him.

Witnesses, including Peter’s cousin, and the mother of the actual suspect yelled at the police telling them they had the wrong person.

The mother of the suspect yelled at them, “You know it is my son. Why are you arresting him [Peter]?”

She spoke to Liz Hing a couple of days later and said she didn’t know why police had arrested Peter because they had already been to her house to arrest her own son – “so they knew who they were pursuing”.

Police were approached for comment on the incident and confirmed a 16-year-old male was arrested and released a short while later.

Wairarapa Police response manager Senior Sergeant Jennifer Hansen said they were “looking at the matter” internally.

Family devastated

While the arrest was unfolding Peter’s mum, who was in Rarotonga, was contacted by a schoolteacher who told her Peter had been arrested.

She gave her husband’s contact who then went to the police station to try to find his son.

He was told they had nobody by that name at the station and so he drove around looking for Peter and flagged down a police car which turned out to be the dog handler involved.

He asked him, “What have you done with my son?”.

The dog handler told him another unit had dropped him off and asked the father to apologise to Peter on his behalf.

Liz Hing said the family were unhappy with police’s heavy-handed tactics and failure to follow police procedures, especially when arresting an innocent minor.

She said her son did not even look like the suspect and was not asked for his identification.

“Shouldn’t you have asked him that before you grabbed him, before you smacked him against the fence, and definitely before you cuffed him twice?”

She said when she heard about her son’s arrest, she was panicked and desperate to let her family know so they could find out what happened to him.

“I felt really helpless”.

She intends to lodge a complaint with the Independent Police Conduct Authority.

  • The Independent Police Conduct Authority handles complaints about the NZ Police. If you have a complaint about the Police, visit www.ipca.govt.nz or call 0800 503 728.

11 COMMENTS

  1. A very sad case of the police been bullies, i too have grandchildren at the school. Police ought to apologize in writing and compensate with a money value for all the crap they stressed out to the whanau. Idiots couldnt even ask the young falla his name. A whole lotta BS

  2. Financial compensation for this kind of ignorance, should be applicable the law should apply to these mugs, for this brutal thuggish behavior , clearly not following protocols.

  3. disgusting behaviour by police officers. not identifying, not reading his rights… are we getting like America?
    hope there is disciplinary action for all involved

  4. How sad for this young boy been accused of something he didn’t know about embarrassed in front of his school how on earth did this response team get their information so wrong is there no standard format before actions are implemented

  5. Sounds like the police have been watching too many videos of American cops. What is our country coming to

  6. Shame on the Police concern, I wish Liz all that best in her continue complaint progress to NZ Police. I do little Peter is recovering ok which I know he most likely isn’t. No apologize from the police face to face is gutless i could say more but i will leave it at that.

  7. Very unprofessional, it’s a no wonder police are disrespected. Just an utter abuse of governmental powers. Shame on them pokokohua.

  8. This makes me angry, was it the colour of his skin that made the Police arrest him? Where are the apologies. Dog handler had a cheek to ask his dad to apologize on his behalf. Do it yourself, if you are remorseful. This is not right. Handling internally smacks of … they the Police just dont give a damn

  9. Lila dispute their illegal actions this is illegal common practice the police do it up here everywhere I’ve had 3 separate incidents kuki getting pepper sprayed after exams this time last year n Ngawiki illegally being arrested twice in 1 day

  10. Those police should be made to apologise personally to this boy and go to the school assembly and explain to the students “this is what we do cos we are police” “we will get away with this incident because we are police”.. that young man should also get some serious compensation from the police for life due to PTSD created by police brutality

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