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November 4, 2004

Police dogs maul deaf mute

From:, New Zealand - Nov 4, 2004


A deaf and mute Porirua man is recovering in hospital after being mauled by police dogs during an armed offenders squad callout.

Neighbours were horrified by the incident and said the man would not have heard police demands to come out of his flat before his front door was smashed open and police dogs were sent in.

Police were called to a block of four flats in Cheshire St, Cannons Creek, about 9.45pm on Tuesday, after reports of a man armed with a pistol. It is believed the injured man had threatened a resident of the flats with a replica pistol.

Witnesses said about 12 armed police hid behind cars and in nearby bushes before storming the man's second-storey flat.

Detective Senior Sergeant Mike Oxnam of Porirua CIB said two dogs were sent in after the man failed to respond to calls to surrender. "We believed we were dealing with an armed incident and responded accordingly," he said.

When The Dominion Post visited the flat yesterday, the front door was still smashed and splintered and the threshold was blood-stained.

The man was taken by ambulance to Wellington Hospital with serious leg injuries. Yesterday, his condition had improved and he was transferred to Hutt Hospital.

The incident was a rude awakening for Cheshire St residents. Neighbour Shalom Pua said she and her two children, Zitah-Jenay, 3, and Ebony-Ellenyce, 7, were terrified after being alerted by Ms Pua's uncle.

Her uncle was woken by rustling outside his bedroom window and looked out to see four men dressed in black and wearing balaclavas huddled around his car, she said.

"He called out 'hey, what . . . are you doing'. The guy turned and pointed the gun straight at my uncle. He started screaming and yelling 'it's guys breaking into the car and they've all got guns'."

Not realising they were police officers, Ms Pua called 111 in a panic. She was furious it took staff at least 15 minutes to confirm the armed men were police.

She heard the sound of screams and dogs barking coming from next door as she waited on the phone.

Ms Pua said her neighbour was deaf and mute and would not have heard demands made by police, or been able to communicate with them.

He was "a lovely, friendly man", and had been in a good mood an hour before police arrived, she said.

© Fairfax New Zealand Limited 2004.