New Zealand police officers charged with manslaughter

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Wellington – Three New Zealand Police officers have been charged with manslaughter, authorities said on Wednesday, following the death of a man in custody last year.

The 55-year-old man died while in custody at the Hawera police station, some 190 kilometres north of Wellington, in the early hours of June 1, 2019.

The charges allege the officers, who cannot be named for legal reasons, were “grossly negligent” in their duty of care to the victim, and that this was a “causal factor” in his death, police said in a statement.

“The decision to file charges was made after a thorough investigation and consideration of legal advice from the New Plymouth Crown Solicitor and a Queen’s Counsel,” the statement said.

The victim’s family has been advised on the charges, and all three officers have been stood down from duty, the statement said.

The trio have been remanded on bail and will appear in court in late June.

Police said as the matter is before the courts, no further details or comments about the case would be made.

A police statement released last year following the incident said the man was found unresponsive at the police station during a routine check.

Police staff and paramedics tried to revive the man for more than 30 minutes.

“It is a very sad time for all involved, and we extend our deepest sympathies to the family,” Inspector Chris de Wattignar said at the time.

“Police staff make every effort to ensure the safety of those in Police custody.”

(dpa/NAN)


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