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Christchurch mosque shootings: Camouflage wearer claims wrongful arrest

Author
NZ Herald ,
Section
National,
Publish Date
Saturday, 16 March 2019, 10:54a.m.
Stephen Millar says he was wrongfully arrested because he wore camouflage clothing. Photo / supplied
Stephen Millar says he was wrongfully arrested because he wore camouflage clothing. Photo / supplied

A Christchurch man says he will seek compensation for wrongful arrest for wearing camouflage clothing yesterday while police were dealing with the mosques massacre.

Stephen Millar, a 30-year-old father of young children, said he was inadvertently caught up in the police operation when he arrived outside Papanui High School intending to pick up his 13-year-old brother-in-law.

A police officer held a gun to his head and ordered him down on the ground.

"I looked up at the cop and he said, 'Look at me again and I will shoot you'.

"I had no weapons on me."

"They had me on my knees, they had a gun in my face.

"I said, 'I've done nothing wrong. They said I was an idiot for wearing camouflage clothing."

Millar said he had been wearing camouflage clothing since he was a child. He always wore it, although he had quit the habit today - temporarily.

He said he was arrested and put in a car.

"They have given me a verbal warning for stupidity and the only thing they could say was [that it was] disorderly behaviour.

"They humiliated me publicly."

He said that friends and family who had seen published photos of him on his knees next to a police officer had recognised him, even though news media had blurred his face, and some thought he was involved in the massacre.

"People think I'm one of the bad guys."

A recipient of a state benefit, he has started a gardening business to earn some additional money. His name is on his vehicle and he said the negative publicity would harm his business.

When asked if it crossed his mind that going out dressed in camouflage might create difficulties when the police were dealing with a mass shooting, Millar said: "No. That's what I wear every day. Everyone that knows me knows I have always dressed like that."

The Herald is seeking a response from the police.

ON AIR: Kerre McIvor Mornings

9a.m. - 12p.m.