Prison guard sacking justified – authority
Mon, 17 Sep 2012 2:24p.m.
The Department of Corrections has been judged to have acted fairly when it sacked a Mt Eden prison guard who struck an inmate in the face.
Fuatai Misiaita claimed he was acting in self-defence when he struck a prisoner in the face as the prisoner, who has name suppression, was being interviewed by another officer, Rajendra Thakare.
Mr Misiaita came into the room during the conversation to ask if he had seen the prison nurse as required, and began a conversation in Samoan, during which Mr Thakare said Mr Misiaita's body language was aggressive.
When the prisoner got up Mr Misiaita struck him in the face so hard that he lost balance and his nose began to bleed.
Mr Misiaita denied he had hit out at the prisoner, saying he'd used a standard control and restraint technique.
But after an employment hearing, the prison boss Grace Smit said the assault of a prisoner amounted to serious misconduct and Mr Misiaita, who had 10 years of service, was dismissed.
Employment Relations Authority member Rosemary Monaghan said there was sufficient evidence to Ms Smit for her to find that Mr Misiaita had assaulted the prisoner.
Though Ms Smit didn't inquire directly as to whether Mr Misiaita could have been acting in self-defence, she had considered whether he should have stepped away, as the officers were expected to. But Mr Misiaita said he'd do the same thing again in that situation.
She said the decision to fire him wasn't inconsistent with an assault case involving two officers as there was a power imbalance between an officer and a prisoner.
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