114 blows to the head in a Police Cell



Custody death: Dead prisoner’s family eye action against cops

The family of a young man who died in a blood-smeared cell after hitting his head against concrete more than 100 times are looking to take legal action against the police.

The Independent Police Conduct Authority report into Sentry Taitoko’s death was released yesterday.

The heavily intoxicated 20-year-old from Manurewa had suffered “an extreme and dangerous drug reaction” and police failed repeatedly in their care for him while he was in custody, said authority chairman Sir David Carruthers.

Sentry’s brother, John Taitoko, said the family felt vindicated by the report and reinforced in their belief that the death could have been prevented.

They were still unhappy with police. “They failed in their duty.”

The family were looking to take legal action against the police. “It’s not closed, it’s still going,” John Taitoko said.

“It’s more like the negligence side of it … he was unmonitored for 50 minutes and in his state he should have been watched five times an hour.”

The overstretched Police force trying to monitor people who shouldn’t be in their holding cells in the first place added to a ‘who cares’ mentality from the cops leads to a young man being able to smash his head against the wall and floors of his cell 114 times.

If this lack of care had occurred to a nice middle class kid, there would be an uproar.  Unfortunately our authority worship culture means the Police can do no wrong and distressed and sick 20 year olds can die in their cells alone.

Shhhh. Think about the Cricket or something.



  1. What a very sad thing . It deeply saddens me to read such a report . Who’s the minister or police ?…. Michael Woodhouse . Oh , right . And before that it was judith collins yeah ? Charge them with manslaughter ?

    Excellent Orwell quote .

  2. A tragedy that should never have happened. I hope this family gets some sort of decent resolution. We all deserve that…..

  3. Do you know the real numbers of mentally ill maori that have died in nz prisons, either by suicide or in this case uncaring prison officers? Why have we become disposable? Why do they move our family member(s) away from the area that we live and take him to chch (from the far nth) where he has a physcotic episode 2 days after transfer and is then dead 2 weeks later? He was on 24 hr watch but nobody saw anything, his mother was never told why he was moved, no support for her from anyone in authority, just stonewalling. If we are serious about getting new representation into power we need data on this and a whole lot more. Mentally ill family members who died in prison in our family now total 3. I know what they feel, anger, frustration, anger, helplessness, anger, anger, anger.

    • There is no sticky plaster for this. None at all.

      From your place of knowing – what could be created, in equal partnership, between the sometimes unwell person and a trusted provider, to catch the sicknesses early enough? To establish safe ‘buddy’ systems, perhaps, so that episodes can be quickly caught? To provide housing and ‘people connections’ that are not co-dependent? To keep people in mental and psychic pain away from numbing drugs that could lead to unwanted death?

      Frustration and anger are soul-rotting unless directed to purposeful and constructive remedies. “Better to light a candle than curse the darkness.”

      What practical and positive things can be done now, before looking at ‘government’? (You know they’ll turn it into a bureaucratic nightmare the moment the dead hand of orthodox ‘care’ falls on it. Look at ‘aged care’ if you doubt me.)

      And, if this is not your path to take – who needs your help to make it happen?

      • Yeah its hard. When they started degrading services to the mentally unwell, then putting up facades to run those services, then reducing funding to run their facades, well, the result is what you sometimes see happening. The rest are hidden behind beaurocracy. Its like other important services for the vulnerable, there are people in these services that care, and their caring results in burnout, they then leave or they change. When an extended, young family member tried to commit suicide 6 weeks ago, the father tried from 8pm to contact help thru the 24 hr mental health line. After being frustratingly fobbed off and lobbed backwards and forwards he finally managed to contact someone to take his child to at 11pm. His experience with mental health has not been good. Not only do you not know what to ask them, but they dont (in this case) have a protocol in place to work with the new school this child now attends (suspended in the first week of attending due to the pressure of a new environment and her rejection of authority). This is criminal! What can we do? We look after our own for now, and think hard of ways to help our young, without a degree or power to demand more care.

  4. This is a sad and unnecessary death and quite rightly the family are looking for justice …………. and trying to ensure it does not happen to some one else s son, daughter or loved one.

    The story is reported in a confusing manner …… my reading of it is the victim was pissed to the eyeballs and in full blown alcohol psychosis.

    The story reports “an extreme and dangerous drug reaction”.

    I believe the drug was Alcohol ……..

    Alcohol poising is a drug overdose ……… Its very common and the police should be checking all intoxicated people regularly …… Alcohol is also involved in lots of suicides and self harming.

    The police were negligent at the very least in this cell death.

    The Government is criminal in how they allow the makers of this drug to push the hell out of it at young people and others and get rich from the abuse of.

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