Thursday, October 6, 2011

CCTV catches out South Australian police too

Once again it took newspaper coverage to bring it to light

JENNIFER Lee Ruppelt is an 18-year-old country girl who claims she was strangled by police and passed out during an aggressive arrest. But police say they are the victims of an assault by Ruppelt who hit out at them and gave one officer facial injuries.

The matter caused commotion in the Barossa Valley town of Tanunda yesterday when Ruppelt appeared in the local Magistrates Court on charges of disorderly behaviour and assaulting police.

Ruppelt, of Nuriootpa, denies the allegation she purposely struck police in an incident in May and will now stand trial. Community members yelled support for the teenager as she left the courthouse.

Michael Lloyd, for Ruppelt, said yesterday any physical abuse from his client toward police had been unintentional and the charges would be vigorously defended. "If there was any contact it was the result of excessive manhandling by a police officer," he said.

Mr Lloyd said his client claimed both the arrest and a later incident at the Nuriootpa Police Station were aggressive. He said after a scuffle at the station's charge counter, Ruppelt was assaulted. "(Ruppelt) suggests at that stage she was strangled by a police officer and blacked out."

CCTV footage from the police station leaked to The Advertiser shows Ruppelt being pushed against the charge counter by a male officer while her arms are pinned. At one stage Ruppelt's shoulder and body are forced against the counter while an officer puts his right arm to her neck. The same officer also kicks her legs apart. The alleged strangling is not seen on the footage.

A spokeswoman for SA Police said the incident was being investigated. "A report will be forwarded to the Police Complaints Authority for assessment," a statement said.

Police allege they attended Ruppelt's flat on May 3 where they observed her behaving in a disorderly manner.

Mr Lloyd said Ruppelt also contests that allegation and said she may have shouted the word "f..k" several times but that should not be considered "disorderly".

Magistrate Terry Forrest remanded Ruppelt on continuing bail to appear at trial in May next year.


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