No justice for victims of police brutality

July 8, 2008

- Alastair Reith

On June 25th, a white jury in Tauranga found Police Sergeant Keith Parsons, Senior Constable Bruce Laing, Constable John Mills and Sergeant Erle Busby not guilty of brutally assaulting Rawiri Falwasser, a young Maori, in October 2006.

With police like these, who needs criminals?

Rewi Falwasser suffered a mental breakdown on Labour Day 2006, and was not in control of his own actions. This is accepted by the police. He was arrested after stealing a neighbours car and driving erratically, endangering both himself and other people on the road.

The police took him to Whakatane police station, and put him in a holding cell. When they later came to remove him from the cell and take him to be photographed, he refused to leave the cell. According to Crown Prosecutor Fletcher Pilditch, Mr Falwasser was “stressed, confused and agitated”.

Following Falwasser’s refusal to leave the cell, Sergeant Parsons repeatedly sprayed him in the face with pepper-spray, and when he put up his hands to protect himself from this attack Parsons lashed out at his head with a baton, striking him on the hand and the wrist and leaving him with a 6½-centimetre cut to his arm.

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