Wednesday, January 13, 2016
Thug cops tried to cover up their misdeeds by destroying evidence
There are concerns over the handling of the internal investigation into an alleged assault of two teenagers by police.
A mobile phone video taken by a teenage boy as his young mate was allegedly assaulted by two policemen was mysteriously deleted on the night of the attack, but could now provide damning evidence when the officers face court in May.
The footage was only recovered when the father of one of the boys paid $4000 to an IT consultant, but its disappearance raises serious concerns about the handling of the internal investigation into the officers' conduct.
It is understood the family of one of the alleged victims will ask the Office of Public Prosecutions to examine the case, while the matter could also be referred to the Independent Broad-based Anti-Corruption Commission.
Leading Senior Constable Dennis Gundrill and Senior Constable Simon Mareangareu will face the Ringwood Magistrate Court over the alleged assault on Christmas morning 2014 near a convenience store in Vermont.
The boys, who had just completed Year 11, were detained for several hours at Ringwood police station, and later charged with resisting arrest and possession of a small quantity of marijuana. But all charges against the 17-year-olds were dropped in August last year.
An internal investigation by Whitehorse CIU was only launched when the father of the alleged victim handed over video footage from the phone.
It is understood there are discrepancies between the statements given by Mr Gundrill and Mr Mareangareu, which also differ markedly from the footage of the incident and evidence given by an independent witness.
Mr Gundrill and Mr Mareangareu were initially suspended with pay, but both men are now permitted to perform non-operational duties. They have not faced any disciplinary action from Victoria Police.
Mr Gundrill was previously involved in a serious assault at Ringwood police station in 2008, when he held Bonsai gardener, Tim Vivoda, before another officer punched him "as hard as he could" in the face. The entire incident was captured on CCTV cameras.
During a civil case in the County Court in 2013, Mr Vivoda was awarded $130,000 in damages after Judge Chris O'Neill ruled his treatment by police had breached his rights and undermined public confidence in the force.
Judge O'Neill expressed reservations about Mr Gundrill's credibility during the trial and rejected some of his evidence.
"Clearly the evidence was given after a reconstruction from the footage ... That was an artificial reconstruction and not an honest recollection," Judge O'Neill said.
The most recent allegations of excessive police force raise further concerns about the contentious practice of police investigating their colleagues, particularly when the respective parties are known to each other.
According to the Human Rights Law Centre, more than 90 per cent of complaints about police conduct are referred back to Victoria Police, despite the IBAC having jurisdiction to handle them.
"When serious allegations are made against police, it's essential that the complainant and the public have confidence in a system that is fair and impartial and properly resourced to deal with their complaint. Serious complaints should not be referred back to police to investigate their own conduct," said HRLC spokeswoman Anna Brown.
In July last year, Victoria's highest court referred allegations of police brutality and racism to the IBAC to determine if an independent investigation should be launched into a complaint by Ethiopian man Nassir Bare.
Mr Bare claimed that officers smashed his teeth in a gutter, racially vilified him and capsicum-sprayed him when he was handcuffed, after police stopped his car in February 2009.
The now defunct Office of Police Integrity decided not to investigate the allegations by Mr Bare, who unsuccessfully appealed the case to the Supreme Court of Victoria.
But the Court of Appeals found the OPI's decision was unlawful and ordered the matter be sent to the IBAC.
Posted by JR at 8:04 AM