THE Australian public has reacted with shock after disturbing new pictures of Australian police brutality were splashed on television screens amid claims Victoria Police is in a “crisis”.
The report comes after a joint investigation by The Age and ABC released CCTV footage of six Victorian police officers taking down a disability pensioner, John, who was withdrawing from pain medication prescribed after back surgery.
Despite Assistant Commissioner Luke Cornelius defending the police force and claiming the “community will be in a much better position to secure accountability” after the “imminent roll-out-of-body-worn cameras to be worn by all operational police officers in Victoria”, the Australian public were less than forgiving.
— Matthew Dunn (@drmdunn1) April 3, 2018
Pretty shocking stuff on #abc730 tonight… definitely worth going back and watching it on iview if you missed the program.
— Jamie Cummins (@jc_cummins) April 3, 2018
On the program on Tuesday night, 7.30 delved into a growing number of police brutality cases in Victoria where police have allegedly gone too far.
“Most of the time, our police do a great job on behalf of all of us, under often dangerous and testing conditions,” 7.30 host Leigh Sales said.
“They’re given a lot of power and responsibility in exercising their duties. And for the community to maintain trust in what they do we have to know that when police fall short, they will be held to account. A joint investigation has found several cases in which police have allegedly gone too far.”
— abc730 (@abc730) April 2, 2018
Victoria’s anti-corruption commission has said it will investigate the incident outside the pensioner’s Preston home, with Mr Cornelius telling media on Tuesday he was “very concerned” by the security footage. “The members involved clearly needed to be called to account for their conduct,” he told reporters on Tuesday.
Yet in a conversation with Sales, Mr Cornelius defended a police officer’s right to “apply some force to prevent imminent risk of injury” if the officer was “reaching a point of exhaustion”.
It comes over concerns Victoria’s police complaints is “in crisis”, with the state’s independent broadbased anti-corruption commission or IBAC, handing down criticisms last week over how police handle internal investigations of serious incidents.
“It fails to consider relevant evidence and gives too much weight to police testimony over independent witnesses,” the program reported.
Yet new CCTV footage has emerged where a Victoria police officer is captured stomping on the back of a handcuffed African-Australian man.
The man, who was reportedly having a psychotic episode, had assaulted four people before attempting to hold up a Melbourne pharmacy with a pair of scissors in 2016.
When police arrived, he was subdued, kicked in the head, punched and hit repeatedly with a baton.
“He suffered significant facial injuries, most of his teeth were snapped, he’s got ongoing back issues,” the man’s lawyer Natasha Wolan said.
“He was taken to hospital after the incident because he wasn’t deemed to be fit enough to be in police custody.
“Police are confronted with violence every day. It’s a very difficult job. But he was face down, he was disarmed, and at that stage I think the force was excessive.”
The man later pleaded guilty and was jailed for nearly three years. A complaint to police over his treatment was dismissed.
Sadly accustomed to seeing this kind of footage from the US, but not from here. #abc730
— Sally O'Donoghue (@SallyOD) April 3, 2018
Great interview by @leighsales with Assistant Commissioner of #VictoriaPolice on allegations of #PoliceBrutality . Very little in his answers to reassure the public that this won’t happen again. #auspol #abc730
— Kevan Sangster (@KevanSangster) April 3, 2018
“I was violently forced down to the ground. I had a fracture on the top of my nose. I had a concussion. I had grazing and bruising, so my eyebrow and my cheekbone were cut open,” she said.
The case came after Jessie’s husband, began vomiting violently in a laneway outside a pub. When officers approached and “demanded ID”, she swore at them, and subsequently “had her rights trampled”, according to 7.30.
Yet Mr Cornelius defended his employees, telling Leigh Sales: “Our 19,000 employees generate about 14,000 contacts with the public each day. 14,000 of those contacts result in about seven complaints a day. There are obviously a small number of cases where our scrutiny of those complaints and our investigation of those complaints are found to be wanting.”
Mr Cornelius added it was not police practice to stand down officers when a complaint was made.