From today’s Wanganui, NZ Chronicle:
Skateboarder claims rough handling by police
by Lin Ferguson
A young Wanganui skateboarder plans to complain to the Independent Police Conduct Authority after what he described as “rough, over-the-top treatment” at the hands of Wanganui police officers.
Daniel Blackman, an avid freeboarder (a snowboarder on wheels), was arrested and charged on November 14 with resisting arrest, disorderly behaviour and threatening behaviour after boarding down Portal St.
However, he was given diversion by Judge Michael Radford in the Wanganui District Court on Monday.
Mr Blackman, an assistant dairy farm manager in Palmerston North, is now writing a complaint to the police conduct authority because his treatment by police that night was too harsh and way out of line, he told the Wanganui Chronicle.
Around 8.15pm that Friday night, he’d sat at the top of the Portal St hill with his mate, who was going to drive as back-up behind him in his car, he said.
“We sat there until there was no traffic and we could see the road was clear all the way down.”
They set off with Mr Blackman travelling on his board about 35kph in front of the car, which had its hazard lights flashing. Halfway down, a police car coming up the hill saw them, swung around and drove down, pulling in alongside Mr Blackman on his board.
“He yelled at me to stop and kept yelling because I kept going. He wasn’t giving me any room to swivel and stop, which is what you have to do on a board.”
When he was finally able to roll into a stop at the bottom of the hill, the officer demanded to be given the board.
“I held it to my chest with both arms and told him no way was I giving him my board, because I wasn’t doing anything illegal. Boarding is legal on the roads.”
Mr Blackman admits that he enraged the officer by not handing over his board, but he wasn’t prepared for what happened next.
“He said he was going to set his dog on me, and I told him he better not try . . .”
It became a total stand-off, but he wasn’t giving in and the exchange did get “fairly heated”, he said.
“Well, then he lunged at me, got me in a choker hold and pushed me on the ground. I heard him ringing for back-up.”
By then, three patrol cars had arrived and more officers were helping to restrain him, he said.
“. . . you know, they even asked me if I was on drugs. I mean, as if when you’re riding a board at 35 kph downhill . . . no chance, ever.”
Then another three patrol cars rolled up, he said.
“There were officers everywhere. Then they pepper-sprayed me. I won’t repeat what the officer, the one with the dog, said. I made sure I shut my eyes and my mouth, but it still really burnt.”
Wanganui District Council bylaws prohibit skateboards being ridden in Victoria Ave (the CBD) only, he said.
With his complaint he was enclosing photos of his helmet covered with dents from struggling while he was held down, and pictures of the bruises across his arms and chest where he was holding on to his board.
Mr Blackman defended himself in court because he had wanted the judge to hear what he personally had to say.
“The judge was really great. He asked me what had happened, and I was able to explain it all, and he listened to me.”
Area Commander Duncan McLeod said there was nothing he could say or do until the authority had made its decision.
“It’s out of my hands. It is entirely the authority’s investigation and decision.”
Dan, let us know how it goes…