Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Video footage shows NSW police accused of attacking youth

ON THE same night that an Aboriginal youth was allegedly bashed and then falsely accused of assault by a group of police in northern NSW, his female friend was allegedly slammed into a gutter during a violent arrest, the Police Integrity Commission has heard.

The commission is investigating allegations that Corey Barker, 24, was assaulted at Ballina police station on January 14, 2011, after an altercation with police, and that officers then falsely accused the young man of assaulting them, giving sworn testimony to this effect in court.

The incident was caught on the police station's CCTV cameras.

On Monday, the commission heard that Mr Barker had initially confronted police after seeing them arresting two of his friends in an allegedly violent manner.

One of Mr Barker's friends, Emma Crook, told the commission that she had been "thrown around" by police and a series of pictures were tendered showing multiple cuts and grazes to her arms, legs, back and ear.

"They tackled me onto the ground and sprayed me in the eyes [with capsicum spray]. I had a lot of scratches and grazes - I couldn't see," Ms Crook said.

But four other witnesses, including at least one who was sober at the time, said they saw her picked up and slammed into the gutter. "They had her restrained on the ground then I saw her lifted up to about chest height and then just dropped her on the ground - a straight dead-drop," Byron Nolan said. "I heard her head slap into the concrete."

After seeing this allegedly violent treatment of their friend, Mr Nolan and Mr Barker ran over and tried to intervene.

"Next thing we were on the ground and they were restraining us … one of them had his foot on the back of my head and was kind of rolling it - it was really uncomfortable," Mr Nolan said.

"I heard one of them shouting, 'let the black guy go, let the black guy go'. I guess [They were talking about me], I'm a bit darker than Corey is."

The commission heard that, rather than being let go, Mr Barker was taken back to Ballina police station with Ms Crook and her boyfriend, Jay Healey.

Ms Crook gave evidence about a number of apparent breaches of police protocol while she was detained, including that a number of documents falsely stated that she had refused to answer questions about her health, possessions and next of kin. Ms Crook said that while detained she had seen Mr Barker being assaulted.

"I heard a big bang and opened the door and Corey was on the ground. Four officers were holding him down and blood was coming from his head. I shut the door quickly … I was scared. I wasn't sure what was going to happen."

The inquiry continues, with Mr Barker and the police involved to give evidence.


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