Thursday, December 9, 2010

Queensland police officer quits after using excessive force in teen arrest

Is it too much to hope that he will be prosecuted for assault?

A POLICE officer found to have used excessive force in the arrest of a 15-year-old boy was allowed to resign from the Queensland Police Service before the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal had a chance to sack him. Although the QPS normally requires three months notice from police, Sergeant Damien Chapman submitted his resignation last Thursday and was released at 4pm on Friday.

His departure came just five days before QCAT delivered its sanction after finding Chapman guilty of improper conduct and excessive force, in relation to the arrest of a boy at Clontarf north of Brisbane in May 2007. The 15-year-old who cannot be named, suffered a ruptured spleen as a result of a blow to his side during the arrest.

In a hearing yesterday, the tribunal heard Chapman's resignation was accepted by North Coast Assistant Commissioner Graham Rynders.

In an extraordinary coincidence, Mr Rynders is the brother of Deputy Commissioner Kathy Rynders who had previously found misconduct allegations against Chapman could not be substantiated.

The Crime and Misconduct Commission appealed the police ruling, claiming Chapman should have been dismissed for his conduct. Yesterday tribunal members James Thomas and Susan Booth ruled that had Chapman not resigned from the QPS he would have been dismissed for improper conduct and excessive force.

"The respondent's attempt to cover up his misconduct only aggravates the situation and reveals an attitude that is not acceptable in a serving officer," Mr Thomas said.

He also ordered a "disciplinary declaration" be made against Chapman, limiting his chances of future employment in the public service and security organisations.

A CMC spokeswoman said it was the first time a disciplinary declaration had been made by QCAT against a police officer. "The making of a disciplinary declaration against public sector officers including police, has only been possible since State Parliament passed relevant legislation in late 2009," said the spokeswoman.


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