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'Irrational behaviour' blamed for Chinese tourist's injuries

Published: 5:26PM Tuesday February 21, 2012 Source: ONE News

Waikato police say a Chinese woman who was left with a dislocated elbow and cuts to her face during an incident in Hamilton was being irrational, and that contributed to her injuries.

An internal investigation was launched into the circumstances surrounding the arrest of Naiju Li, 56, who filed a brutality complaint against police.

Li, who was in New Zealand to visit her niece, said she was in so much pain she "wished she was dead" after being arrested at a supermarket carpark in Hamilton.

She told ONE News earlier this month that the incident happened after she approached a tow truck driver who she thought may have towed her car from the carpark.

"Because I couldn't speak any English I went in and sat next to the passenger seat. I used my body gesture, trying to use that to say, can you take me back to the towing company so I can retrieve my car?"

It was at this stage that the police turned up, and Li returned to the supermarket after her gesturing had failed to gain a response.

"I heard a sound from behind. As soon as I was trying to turn my head I saw a police officer rushing towards me, firstly they held part of my arm, then bend them backwards, trying to bring my arm backwards," she said.

"I screamed in pain cause it hurt."

Li said it took doctors three attempts to re-set her dislocated elbow and she needed stitches to her face after police pressed her to the ground in handcuffs.

Police 'vindicated'

Superintendent Win van der Velde said an internal investigation, which involved interviews with eyewitnesses, vindicated the police involved.

"These injuries, while unfortunate, were possibly avoidable had the woman's behaviour been rational," he said.

"So far we have spoken to five independent witnesses who all outlined a situation involving a person whose behaviour was described as irrational and uncooperative.

"Having reviewed the file I am now even more confident the matter was dealt with professionally by the staff involved."

Van der Velde said many of the claims made by the woman were found to be untrue.

"Four of our staff were reported to have 'rugby tackled' the woman from behind, in fact at the time of arrest two of the original four responding staff had already left to attend another job. Two officers remained trying to placate the woman and eventually had to arrest her. At no time was any person 'rugby tackled'."

Van der Velde said it was acknowledged that there was a language barrier during the course of the incident, but said officers tried to put the woman in contact with a Chinese speaker.