3 Mar 2014

Cell death arrest questioned

9:10 pm on 3 March 2014

The lawyer for the family of a man who died in police custody says he would still be alive if he had not been arrested.

Sentry Taitoko died on 16 February after spending several hours at the Manukau station where he was taken to sober up.

The family's lawyer Peter Williams, QC, said on Monday that the 20-year-old was at his brother's house and police were called by neighbours when they heard Mr Taitoko shouting.

"The deceased was drunk, but he was under the control of his brother and presented no violence to anybody. He did not commit any offence. The police said that they wanted to take him to a detoxification centre, but in fact, of course, he was taken to a police station."

Mr Williams said Mr Taitoko was restrained by officers on a footpath for 30 minutes before being taken away and one officer placed his knee on Mr Taitoko's neck.

A post-mortem found that he died of respiratory problems, despite no history of such problems.

Police say they can't comment because of continuing investigations.