Cop used ‘excessive force’ on naked teenager
A NSW cop used excessive force when he inflicted "multiple baton strikes" on a naked 16-year-old boy in Byron Bay and should be considered for criminal charges, the Law Enforcement Conduct Commission has found.
The child screamed out for help as he was pinned to the ground by four uniformed police officers in the back of a dimly lit laneway in Byron Bay in January after he'd refused to leave the area near a backpacker's hostel, the commission found.
Mobile phone footage captured one police officer raising his hand with a baton and striking the teenager up to 20 times as he lay on the ground.
An inquiry was launched to investigate whether the use of pepper spray and a taser were justified when police took the boy, known as AO, into custody in the early hours of January 11.
On Thursday LECC found that Officer E "should be considered for prosecution for assault occasioning actual bodily harm".
"There was also a significant issue as to the need for the use of a baton on AO (by Officers B and E) and in particular the number and force of baton strikes that were administered to AO, particularly those administered by Officer E at a time when AO appeared to be under restraint," LECC said in a statement.
At the hearing's opening address counsel assisting the commission outlined how the teenager, who had been holidaying with his family, was unarmed and was not heard to make any threats.
"Although it is certainly the case that (he) was acting irrationally and was plainly intoxicated in some way, he had not attempted to attack anyone, either physically or verbally," Terence Rowles said.
"He suffered extensive bruising and one rib was fractured. There can be no doubt that, because of his interaction with police, he was in considerable pain and his distress was exacerbated by his intoxication."
Mr Rowles said police were confronted with an "unpleasant" situation in which they needed to remove the teenager, who appeared to be suffering from a mental illness and under the influence of drugs and alcohol, from the area.
At the time NSW Police refused to comment about whether the officers were still on active duty or had been suspended with or without pay.
The hearing was the first of its kind since the commission was formed to replace the Police Integrity Commission.