Records held at Wellington’s Alexander Turnbull Library record:
“Emmanuel Papadopoulos jnr died of a drug overdose”.
Three decades on those of us who were there remember it quite differently.
The Police Complaints Authority’s 40 page report published on 9 February 1990, just over a month after “Manny” Papadopoulos was strangled by policeman Paul Berry is a remarkable document and makes it one of the fastest whitewashes in the PCA’s history. What makes it so remarkable is its arrogance and blatantly pro police viewpoint that is barely suppressed.
Even if you try to read this document from a completely objective viewpoint there are some disturbing trends that remain to the forefront in today’s Independent Police Conduct Authority.
Even in the opening paragraphs of his report Sir Peter Quilliam is adopting a position sympathetic to police by describing their investigation as “thorough and meticulous”. These were unchartered waters for the PCA as it was the first investigation of its kind that the PCA had overseen. It appears that Sir Peter Quilliam was anxious to establish a position from the outset.
Witnesses who are unsympathetic to the police at the time are discredited or rubbished and there is a general emphasis on preferring the versions of the witnesses who can help clear the police. Overall the impression is that from the outset there was a determination to clear the police and that is how the “investigation” was conducted.
The PCA’s investigator was John Roberts who for the duration of his tenure with the PCA maintained a staunchly pro police viewpoint and was renowned for his ability to find in favour of police no matter how overwhelming the evidence was to the contrary.
There was a heck of a lot of background evidence that the PCA refused to look at, perhaps because it would have painted an entirely different picture. Not the least of these being that the same police officer who strangled Manny Papadopoulos had been hassling him for weeks prior to that night. This fact alone offers an alternative explanation as to why he ran away when stopped. In those days the police officer concerned was well known around Wellington as a bully and thug and so it is a reasonable possibility that Manny Papadopoulos, who was alone in the car, feared for his safety.
Consider also that back in 1989 the police did not become involved in “routine traffic stops” as this was before police merged with the MOT. New Year’s Eve morning in central Wellington and the police are going to have far more important things on their minds that “routine traffic stops”. So this is one aspect that just does not add up and has never been explained. Up until that point it is unlikely that this police officer had conducted a traffic stop in his entire career.
One of the witnesses actually says in his statement that the thought the Sargent wanted to kill Mr Papadopoulos.
Throughout his report Quilliam refers to Mr Papadopoulos as “the deceased” and seems to have forgotten that he is dealing with a human life and the consequences of that being taken.
Read the report for yourself and make your own judgments:
How many other historical documents of this nature have been wrongly recorded to distort the truth and give an inaccurate picture of our history?