Saturday, November 27

‘You’ve got the wrong guy’: what it’s like to be detained at gunpoint outside your own home

A different kind of lockdown unfolded on a Māngere East street earlier this month when police tried to arrest two men after a firearm yell. And an innocent passerby was caught up in the uproar.


Timothée Matariki in front of his home on Henwood Road in Māngere.
Photo: LDR / Justin Latif

4.30 a. M.

Timothée Matariki gets up for another taxi day. He takes two trips in his white Toyota Prius. Before returning home, you stop at a post office, do banking, and purchase a 710 ml bottle of V.

2.30 p.m.

The 37-year-old stops on the edge of the lawn outside his home in Māngere East and notices that more than a dozen police officers were milling down his street.

His mother, with whom he has shared the Henwood Road home for the past 32 years, is in the front yard trying to figure out what all the commotion is about. Thinking that you should bring your dog inside, having no idea what’s about to happen, you walk through your house to the back door.

“I go out, I look up and there are several policemen with guns at my back door, telling me to put my hands up,” he says, recalling the incident. “They say: ‘we know who you are with, we know who is in your house.’ Armed only with his bottle of V, he tells the police that they must have gone to the wrong place.

“I’m thinking what the hell is going on? So they told me to open the back door and when I got closer they pushed me to the ground, spread my arms and legs and started patting me, while a couple of the officers pointed their guns at me.”

Despite having GPS logs showing where he had been driving all day, as well as a dash cam in the car that reverses his movements, they then take Matariki up the street for questioning.

As they carry him, his sister tries to call him. “Then they took my phone from me, and the next minute two police officers come up and say, ‘We have to arrest this guy, we think he’s involved and that’s why he’s trying to use his phone.’

Matariki is questioned about his connection to the other offender, who is handcuffed in his neighbor’s backyard. “It just got very, very intense. They said ‘don’t talk nonsense, we know you’re with someone else’.

“And I said, ‘I don’t know him from a bar of soap. I’ve never seen him in my life and there are only two of us who live in this house.’

Matariki becomes vocal, demanding that the officers do their job correctly because “you have the wrong guy.”

He says he was left handcuffed for more than an hour, while his neighbors began taking photos and sharing the incident on social media.

4 pm

Matariki says that an officer finally released him, after saying “I knew I wasn’t involved, but these hot heads [the Armed Offenders Squad] they think they know what’s best. “

Upon reflection, Matariki wonders if the police would have taken the same heavy-handed approach if he lived in another suburb. “I think they prejudged the situation, but I don’t know how it happened. It felt pretty extreme, and since there were firearms involved, it could have been a lot worse.”

The experience has left him very anxious to know if such an incident could happen again. While he heard “virtually nothing” from Victim Support, he received help from a local community organization, Māngere Connect.

Mangere Connect coordinator Toni Helleur says recent firearm-related incidents have made everyone in the area very nervous and she hopes more can be done to help those unintentionally affected by these situations.

“The police did what they had to do, but they admitted to us that they don’t really have a process to support people caught in an incident like this.”

Police told Helleur that they are looking to review this process.

In a written statement, Waitematā Police Detective Inspector Kevin McNaughton said that they have since apologized to Matariki, but that the incident was “extremely rapid … where there was a serious risk to our community and law enforcement personnel. “.

“While clearing an address of interest and searching for the criminals and the firearm, a man entered the address. He was briefly detained, then quickly established that he was not involved in the situation and was released. At no time was he detained. . “

A weapon was eventually recovered and the two criminals who caused the incident now face a series of charges and the matter is before the courts.

Matariki is back driving taxis, drinking V, and despite a few sleepless nights thinking about what might have been, he is somewhat relieved to be on the scene for his mother.

“I was lucky to come home when I did, as I took the heat for my mother. But at the end of the day it’s something that could have happened to anyone.”

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Local Democracy Reporting is a public interest news service supported by RNZ, the Association of News Publishers, and NZ On Air.

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