Tauranga Police Officer in serious condition after being struck by a beer keg
A Tauranga policewoman was in a serious condition in intensive care last night after suffering multiple fractures in a weekend attack by drunken, brawling partygoers.
The policewoman was struck by what police call a "heavy metal object" – which some partygoers believe was a beer keg – and had to be carried away, unconscious and bleeding.
She was one of five police officers injured when revellers at a double 21st birthday party in the Tauranga suburb of Welcome Bay attacked police who had been called in to break up a fight about 12.20am yesterday. The other four officers had injuries ranging from suspected fractured ribs and bites to cuts and grazes.
The policewoman's skull, nose and shoulder were fractured when she was hit on the head by a partygoer wielding a heavy metal object, Detective Senior Sergeant Greg Turner said.
The policewoman had regained consciousness last night and was in a serious but stable condition in intensive care at Tauranga Hospital. "I'm encouraged by the progress she's making, but it will be a long, slow road to recovery," he said.
Officers had been subjected to a "prolonged attack" with metal objects, bottles and pint glasses, he said.
All available police in the area – about 35 officers – were called. But even with the numbers, it took about 30 minutes to control the crowd.
Some witnesses have accused police of making the situation worse with heavy-handed use of batons, dogs and pepper spray.
Neighbour Daryl Harlan said the party had been fine till people from outside the area arrived.
Partygoer Manaaki Kahotea, 17, said people were "amped up" after a fight broke out and got worse when police arrived. The policewoman was hit by a big man wielding something metallic that looked like a beer keg.
"It was like she went to sleep. She just dropped."
He thought police were too aggressive. "They were smashing people for no reason. If we would not go away they would grab those black batons and smack you in the legs or chest."
A Tauranga man, 27, will appear in Tauranga District Court today charged with assaulting the policewoman. Further serious charges are expected. Another six men will appear on charges including injuring with intent, rioting and obstruction.