Second manslaughter charge against Taranaki police officers dismissed

By Robin Martin for RNZ

A second manslaughter charge against three police officers charged over the death of a man at a Taranaki police station last year has been dismissed.

Allen Ball died at the Hāwera police station in the early hours of June 1, 2020.

The officers, who have name suppression, were initially charged with failing to provide the necessities of life, namely medical attention.

An additional charge was later added of failing to prevent injury – in this case self-injury.

At the conclusion to a pre-trial hearing into another matter at the High Court in New Plymouth yesterday, Justice Thomas announced her decision to dismiss the second charge.

Ball, 55, was arrested after a family-harm incident at a residential address in Hāwera.

He was intoxicated when taken to the Hāwera police station and discovered unresponsive in a holding cell some time later.

Attempts to resuscitate him proved unsuccessful.

The charging documents alleged that the officers, who have pleaded not guilty, were grossly negligent in their duty of care to the victim and that this negligence was a causal factor in his death.

Police said at the time the decision to file charges was not taken lightly and made after a thorough investigation and consideration of legal advice from the New Plymouth Crown Solicitor and a Queen’s Counsel.

The officers, who have been stood down from their duties, have been remanded on bail.

Their trial is set down for three weeks starting on May 17, 2021.

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