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Apology for ‘mistaken identity’ arrest of Makoura student

Liz Hing holds the letter concluding her complaint, which apologises for some of the actions of the police surrounding the arrest of her son, Peter. PHOTO/ARTHUR HAWKES

Mother happy ‘for a wrong to be corrected’
TIMES-AGE EXCLUSIVE

ARTHUR HAWKES
[email protected]

“I remember Peter said to me ‘It’s not worth it, nothing’s going to happen’,” said Liz Hing, recalling when she first lodged a complaint with the Independent Police Conduct Authority, regarding her son’s arrest at Makoura College last October.

After a detailed investigation, the family have now received a formal apology from New Zealand Police, which was presented to them at the college on Thursday.

Peter Hing was mistakenly arrested as police chased down a suspect in a knifepoint robbery at Gull service station the previous day.

Liz said that she was happy with the result and wanted to extend her thanks to Acting Senior Sergeant Shayne Nolan, who oversaw the investigation into her complaint.

“This is why I came out with this, to get vindication for my son and to acknowledge the hard work of Shayne.”

The initial arrest of 16-year-old Peter was made lawfully but in error [a case of mistaken identity], and resulted in handcuffs being applied twice, and then being left on the student for too long – a lack of communication with Peter [that he was free to go] and with the Hing family [after the incident] were also identified in the apology.

In the two-page document presented to the Hings, New Zealand Police said that they “failed to provide a sufficient explanation of how this incident occurred and the actions that the officers took in a timely manner”, adding that they apologised “for the fact that handcuffs were used on Peter after he was released, and the lack of professional contact after the incident”.

The investigation, which began in January this year, was concluded at the meeting last Thursday, attended by mother and son Liz and Peter Hing, Nolan, Constable Roger Newton, Makoura principal Marion Harvey, and the Wairarapa Police Area Commander Scott Miller.

“A lot of people were asking me if I was going to even make a complaint,” recalled Liz, who was in Rarotonga at the time of the arrest.

“But I knew I was going to make one before I even got back to New Zealand.”

A detailed complaint was then lodged, but Liz said that her supporting evidence was not initially passed on to the police by the IPCA.

The IPCA apologised for their error, after Hing queried this, and the information was then given to Nolan, who was then able to provide a comprehensive report with the fresh evidence.

“I was disappointed that they had not sent that video footage and recorded phone calls, even my application which was very in depth, on to Shayne.

“It’s like asking a painter to paint your house without any paintbrushes and paint. What’s the point?

“How many other people send in complaints that are not forwarded on to the police? To me, it’s crucial.”

Despite being happy with the majority of the investigation’s findings, Liz said there was still a bone of contention around Peter’s handcuffing.

“When he was arrested the first time, the officer who handcuffed him said he only took the cuffs off him to de-escalate the situation.

“To me, if you don’t tell him what he’s arrested for, and he’s not read his rights [the police maintain he was], then how is he supposed to know that he’s not free to go. He went to walk off and they did it all over again.”

Liz said they were “happy with everything else, but not that part”.

“I still appreciate what Shayne has done; he can only go on what he’s told and what evidence he has.

“But I really just want to encourage people: it’s not about what you can get out of it, because a lot of people said to me ‘you should be paid out’ – that was never, ever a motive for me.

“This is all about justice and accountability and transparency – for a wrong to be corrected.”

1 COMMENT

  1. Tena koe Liz, very sad to read what happened to yr son. Well done for being persistent, and making the police accountable. Ngaa mihi nui.

Comments are closed.

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