Treatment of Samoan man by N.Z. Police under scrutiny

The New Zealand Police have launched an internal investigation over an incident involving a 60-year-old Samoan father.

Feleti Key has alleged that he was victim of Police brutality as a result of an incident 15 months ago. The claims have been referred to the NZ  Independent Police Conduct Authority (I.P.C.A.). 

According to 1 NEWS, Mr. Key has a medical condition called apnoea where he suffers a temporary cessation of breathing especially during his sleep. 

He had been diagnosed with apnoea since 2005 and suffers being tedious during the day. 

On the 8th of March 2019, Mr. Key went to a nightclub after playing in a band at a Samoan function with his fellow band members. 

According to Mr. Key, he had two beers before he felt tedious and when he couldn't contact his family to pick him up, he slept in the car for 2 hours and woke up gasping for air. 

“I decided to drive home as I cannot sleep without the machine to open my airway,” he told 1 News 

He said he drove really slowly but was pulled over by a passing ambulance. Later on, the police arrived and Mr. Key said that he wanted his lawyer after he had refused to be breath-tested or blood-tested for alcohol. He also stated that he was handcuffed.

According to the police, Mr. Key refused to undergo an evidential breath test and refused to provide blood specimen and was abusive to the point where he kicked one of the officers but Mr key denied all of this saying that he was struggling to breathe.

"They just dragged me and when they got me in the car, I said that I can't breathe with my face on the seat and it felt like someone sat on me to hold me down," Mr Key said

However, the police procedure sheet stated otherwise that Mr Key did undergo a breath screening test that went over the limit and also had an evidential breath test. Police had however refused to comment on the discrepancy.

According to Mr. Key's lawyer, Leauluaiali'i Olinda Woodroffe, Mr. Key refused a blood test because he wanted his lawyer there to explain everything. 

"He refused a blood test because he wanted his lawyer," she said

"He wanted somebody to explain to him his right." 

Mr. Key was taken to Auckland custody unit at Mt. Eden where he stayed in a cell with no oxygen machine and was not given access to a lawyer. 

"It is hard. I try not to talk much about it," Mr Key cried

He was released to his family after a saliva sample around mid-day and he could barely walk.

"We went straight to A&E because he was so upset and crying in pain," Mrs Key said

Auckland hospital found that Mr Key had clinical rib fractures.

"He suffered injuries on the side of his ribs and he continues to suffer the psychological impact of what happened," Leuluaiali'i said.

She has  filed to have the three charges against Mr. Key, drink driving, dangerous driving and assault of a police officer, dismissed. 

Mr. Key, however, wants justice for how he was treated and he spoke up about it because he doesn't want anyone to go through it too. 

Auckland City District Commander Superintendent Karyn Malthus says the police have reviewed their records relating to Mr. Key’s time in custody but there is no information to support the claims he is making.

However, she says because of the seriousness of the allegations they have referred the matter to the IPCA and will also do their own internal investigation.

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