Shattered parents of a troubled Queenstown teen allege police bullying drove her to take her life.
Meika-Celine Walker Pollock, 19, was due in court on August 21 but never turned up.
The next day she was found dead in a car parked up by Arrowtown’s Chinese settlement, after a suspected suicide.
Her father Dave Pollock and mother Tanya Walker allege police victimised her for some years, culminating in what they believe was an over-the-top ‘injuring with intent to injure’ charge, after a fight with another female on June 24.
Pollock says losing a child “completely cuts you to the core”.
“And what makes me angry is the circumstance and the fact it was just bullying, intimidation and threatening behaviour by a bunch of people that she couldn’t fight back against.”
Meika’s grief-stricken parents have laid a complaint with the Independent Police Conduct Authority.
Police Otago Lakes Central Area commander Olaf Jensen says because of the complaint, police can’t comment on the specifics.
“We acknowledge this is a difficult time for the family,” he says. But he also backs his staff, adding: “I have full confidence in the abilities of Queenstown police staff.”
Meika’s death has been referred to the coroner.
Pollock believes Meika took her life to stop police “getting their way”.
He says police repeatedly told her she’d get the maximum sentence of five years’ imprisonment on the court charge, and she was going to “lose everything”.
Walker: “Have you ever heard of anybody going to prison for giving somebody a black eye, let alone a teenager, where it was a two-way thing?”
According to the police summary of facts, Meika grabbed the victim by the hair on June 24 “and punched her multiple times”.
“The victim has ended up with a black eye and concussion and flashback symptoms.”
Meika had said the victim acted aggressively towards her.
At the time of the June incident, Meika was on bail for an unrelated assault, which occurred in January.
She’d been seeking a discharge without conviction for the earlier assault.
In May, her lawyer Joseph Mooney said in Queenstown’s court she’d received a discharge for similar offending two years ago.
On August 21, Meika’s parents and friends turned up to the Queenstown District Court, where her case was due to be called.
When she didn’t turn up, her parents reported her missing.
Pollock says Meika’s last message to him was at 3.30am that day – “she’s crying, she’s upset, she doesn’t know what to do”.
He says he saw Jensen last week and accused local cops of having an unhealthy culture.Jensen doesn’t agree there’s an unhealthy culture in Queenstown.
“Any reports of concerns regarding police staff behaviour are assessed and investigated as appropriate.
“Staff will be held accountable if they have committed a criminal offence or not acted in accordance with our values.”
Queenstown clinical psychologist Annette Fea says: “Anybody who’s having suicidal thoughts needs to make contact with the public mental health service, because they provide 24-hour full cover and have somebody who’s available.
“There are lots of support services out there, but anybody who’s feeling in any way suicidal, that’s the service that they need to go to.”
During the day-time, call 441-0010; after-hours, 0800-467-846.
Healthline: 0800 611-116
Lifeline Aotearoa: 0800 543-354
Suicide Crisis Helpline: 508 828-865 (0508 TAUTOKO)
Samaritans: 0800 726-666
General mental health inquiries: 0800 443-366
The Depression Helpline: 800 111-757
Youthline: 0800 376-633, text 234 or email@example.com