12 Jan 2013

Police officer injured in 'cowardly' attack

6:00 pm on 12 January 2013

A sole charge police officer in Kawhia is recovering from what police call a vicious and cowardly attack that ended only after the intervention of the fire brigade and bystanders.

Police were called to the Waikato town about 6pm on Friday night.

Inspector Rob Lindsay, the acting Waikato District Commander, said a 19-year-old Kawhia man became agitated when the officer tried to arrest him.

Inspector Lindsay said a family member was called to calm the man down, but his arrival had the opposite effect.

The officer first used pepper spray on the 19-year-old and, when that had limited effect, he drew his taser and fired it at the man.

Inspector Lindsay said the policeman was hit from behind as he was trying to handcuff the man and then kicked about the head and body by at least five people.

The officer set off his personal alarm and the local volunteer fire service was called out to help because police back-up was some time away.

During the attack his taser was thrown in the sea and his police pistol was dislodged from his belt. Both have been recovered.

Three people have been arrested and police are looking for at least two others.

Inspector Lindsay said the police officer has severe bruising to his head and was finding it difficult to walk.

He said it could have been far more serious if volunteer firefighters and bystanders had not intervened.

It's the fifth attack on police in the Waikato district since just before Christmas. Inspector Lindsay said some people in the local community may be a bit scared to come forward but he is asking them to do so via Crimestoppers.