Fracas as police try to make drug arrest
By RENEE REDMOND
POLICE have been accused of using excessive force in an arrest attempt at Nimbin while searching for a Lismore robbery suspect.
Nimbin resident Michael Bayles claims he saw police aggressively throw a youth to the ground in Rainbow Lane on Tuesday.
But police said three detectives saw a drug transaction and tried to make an arrest.
They said a crowd of about 30 closed in and began abusing detectives. The youth was able to break free and escape.
Mr Bayles said he believed the police involved were not from the Nimbin station and did not understand the community.
"The boy never moved. He was like a little stunned rabbit," the 41-year-old said.
"The police officer threw him to the ground and held him down.
"This might be how they're trained to deal with people wielding a knife, but for a person with a bag of marijuana it's over-excessive."
However, Acting Richmond Local Area Command crime manager, Detective Inspector Anne Langford, said she did not believe any heavy-handedness was used.
"The officers were following a sighting of a suspect from the Bananacoast Credit Union robbery in Lismore on Tuesday," she said.
"The community were circling the officers and they were forced to call for backup."
Inspector Glen Gilbert, who was in Nimbin on Tuesday, said the officers were spat on during the arrest.
"The police reacted to the hostility directed towards them," he said.
Det Insp Langford said police were still investigating Tuesday's Bananacoast Credit Union robbery in Lismore, and suspect it was linked to last Friday's robbery of Southern Cross Credit Union in Woodlark Street.
Det Insp Langford said the robbery of Summerland Credit Union in Ballina in late April was not linked.