Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Ballarat police again accused of misconduct, heavy-handedness with assault victim

Ballarat police officers have been accused of dragging the victim of a violent assault along the ground, before charging her with assaulting her alleged attacker.

On May 17, Ballarat police were called to an assault in the city's north where they arrested a 43-year-old woman. The woman, who only wants to be known as Sofia, had been the victim of a brutal assault with a tyre iron.

"I just thought I was gonna die," she said. "I was really dizzy and I was on the grass and I just said to myself, I need to stand up and defend myself."

Sofia, who is from South America, said she became panicked and erratic when she saw her alleged attacker, a neighbour, speaking with police.

Her lawyer, Neil Longmore, questioned how officers then reacted.  "The police seemed to think that was reason to then handcuff her and throw her on the ground and start dragging her around and drag her to the ambulance," he said.

Sofia said: "I just want to be helped. Protected." "I was treated like an animal," she said.

Sofia was taken to hospital where she received 14 stitches on the back of her head, and the side of her face. She went home but hours later was woken up by police who arrested her.

"I said 'why am I being arrested if I'm the victim?'. He says, 'it happened, the same thing with your neighbour, don't worry'," Sofia said.

Mr Longmore said bias against his client was a common thread throughout the interview. "She clearly thinks that she's giving them information because they're investigating what's happening to her, not that she's going to be charged," he said.

"She should've been not just read her rights, she should've understood her rights and I think you can see there's a pretty clear line between when somebody's just being read them and doesn't understand them.

"If you do understand your rights in that situation, you certainly shouldn't be giving the police information because they're just about to use that against you to charge you."

Sofia said she thought she was helping with the investigation.

"Just at the end of the interview I understood that they [were] intending since the beginning [to] charge me, whatever I was going to say," she said.

"[The interviewing officer] was repeatedly saying ... 'so you attacked him? Did you attack him?' "And I was trying to say that I was fighting for my life."

Sofia was charged with recklessly causing injury and assault with a weapon, which referred to the mop she used to defend herself, and was served with an intervention order.

The charges were ultimately withdrawn when she appeared at the Ballarat Magistrates Court.

Sofia said she had no faith in Victoria Police's complaints process and instead made a complaint to the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission (IBAC), alleging officers failed to investigate her case properly.

Her lawyer, Mr Longmore said: "What she really would like is an apology and a proper investigation of what occurred and some better training for police, or younger ones who seem to fall into this conduct."

"There's something not quite right about the police training that allows them to just roll through those rights ... go ahead with their interview ... and use it against a person and the person hasn't understood what's going on."

Sofia said she wanted justice. "I don't think they are prepared, prepared to treat people to protect people. I almost died and they did nothing to help me," she said. Victoria Police said the investigation was ongoing and it would be inappropriate to comment.

<a href="">SOURCE</a>

Monday, October 24, 2016

NSW police officers under investigation over claims of aggression and cover-ups

A culture of aggressive policing, cover-up and intimidation is infecting some police local area commands and driving officers to break their oath of duty.

The claims have been made by former NSW police officers, and come as one local area command on the border of the NSW and the ACT is plunged into crisis.

Intensive investigations are underway into the actions of officers at the Monaro Local Command at Queanbeyan in NSW's south, after former police officer Lucie Litchfield claimed she was pressured to lie in court and ultimately forced to resign her position due to relentless bullying.

Queanbeyan police are also under the spotlight after an officer drew his weapon and pointed it at the face of a driver who attempted to evade a random breath test.

In both cases, police professional standards officers are investigating.

A year after her resignation from the NSW Police Force, Ms Litchfield is calling for greater attention on what she says is a toxic culture that centres around protecting mates.

"There is still a significant lack of respect for women in policing," Ms Litchfield said.

"I believe that police are becoming a little bit more heavy-handed and getting away with it.

"I can quite openly say that I saw several incidents which were more excessive than they needed to be, which senior officers were also aware of and it never got reported and was never dealt with."

Ms Litchfield was a senior constable in the NSW Police force and was based at Queanbeyan when she was called to a roadside stop that turned violent, and would ultimately end her career.

On the evening December 21, 2013, she responded, with two male officers, to a urgent call that a green Holden Commodore had escaped the scene of a violent home invasion.

The three police officers pulled over a green Commodore in a suburban street in West Queanbeyan, but they had the wrong car.

When one of the male officers asked the occupants of the vehicle if they had any weapons, a passenger in the back seat, Ricky Caton, produced a plastic toy dinosaur, and declared: "No, but I've got a dinosaur … roaaaar!"

Mr Caton was then allegedly forcibly pulled out of the car along with the other passengers.

In a statement of claim filed with the NSW District Court, Mr Caton alleges he was forcibly pulled from the vehicle, kicked in the legs, his face shoved into the ground and handcuffed.

A second passenger, Adam Antram, who is also suing police, says that he was shoulder-charged by one of the male officers despite the fact he was complying with all police requests.

Mr Antram was allegedly thrown into a retaining wall where he hit his head and lost consciousness.

Ms Litchfield supports Mr Antram's version of events. But in statements filed in court, the two police officers involved provided a different version.

Constable Patrick Hicks, the officer alleged to have shoulder-charged Mr Antram, said he was forced to "check-drill" Mr Antram, who was charging at the other male officer, Senior Constable Todd Finnigan, as he handcuffed Mr Caton.

Both Mr Caton and Mr Antram were charged with assaulting police and resisting arrest. Charges were withdrawn after Ms Litchfield's evidence — described as "cogent and compelling" by Kiama Magistrate Mark Douglass — cast doubt on the bona fides of the prosecution.

Magistrate Douglass found the prosecution should never have been brought.

Mr Caton and Mr Antram are suing the police for assault and malicious prosecution. NSW Police are relying on Officers Hicks and Finnigan's original versions as presented in court in their defence.

"The amount of force that was used against these civilians I believed right from the start was completely unnecessary. It was just totally unprofessional," Ms Litchfield said. "I would still love to be doing the job that I loved and that I woke up every day enjoying.

"But I was very isolated right from the beginning [of this case]. Then after I gave evidence it just intensified.

"There were documents which were printed out and placed on my desk which were basically intimating that I needed security because my life was in danger.

The ABC understands the NSW Office of Public Prosecutions is currently considering whether there is sufficient evidence to charge Constable Hicks and Senior Constable Finnigan — who has been promoted to detective — with perjury, assault and perverting the course of justice. The two officers deny any wrongdoing.

<i>Another case</i>

Concern over aggressive policing at Queanbeyan intensified again recently when vision emerged of an officer pulling a gun on a motorist who was pursued for a random breath test.

A magistrate expressed shock during the prosecution for the man, who was charged with mid-range drink-driving, when the vision was broadcast in court.

Adrian McKenna, the motorist's lawyer, said he had filed a formal complaint with police and his client would be providing a statement to investigators who were probing the actions of the officer, Senior Constable Steven Hilhorst.

"In my view the police officer's actions were appalling," Mr McKenna said. "His conduct was completely unnecessary for the situation he was facing. It was excessive use of force, unnecessary and completely unacceptable.

"To the extent that this kind of conduct is indicative of a broader problem with aggression or lack of accountability in the Monaro local area command, then some serious questions need to be asked about that culture."

Former NSW detective Deborah Locke, a key witness at the Wood Royal Commission into corruption in the NSW Police Force 20 years ago, said she believes a "cowboy culture" is returning to some local area commands.

"I'm hearing of pockets of the boy's club, the bullying, the blue code of 'don't speak out, cover up, be a sheep, don't say anything' because if you do, you'll be squashed and anyone who supports you," she said. "I've had people contact me that are being bullied and harassed and pushed out.

"It's a club, it's a family. It's a job with a badge and a gun and a force of blue and they are tight-knit. But if you speak out about one of your own, there'll be repercussions to make an example to everyone."

The commander of the Monaro Local Area Command, Superintendent Rod Smith, declined the ABC's request for an interview.

The NSW Police Force issued a statement in response to detailed questions from the ABC. "Any complaints of bullying and harassment are investigated and, if found to be sustained, will result in the consideration of serious management action," the statement said.

"The specific matters are currently subject to investigations and inquiries are continuing. "At this stage, it is inappropriate to comment further."

<a href="">SOURCE</a>

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Huge Police goon Hurley under fire again

<img height=300 width=550 src="">

<i>Best known for droppping his big knee on a black guy's stomach, splitting his liver and killing him.  But his fellow cops contaminated the investigation so he got off</i>

Controversial Queensland cop Senior Sergeant Chris Hurley has been charged with three additional assault charges at the start of a two-day trial on the Gold Coast.

Hurley is facing trial in Southport Magistrates Court over a 2013 incident in which he allegedly grabbed a motorist by the throat.

He had been charged with one count of common assault over the incident but three further counts were added at the start of the trial.

He has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Hurley was acquitted of the manslaughter of Palm Island man Cameron Doomadgee in 2007.

The trial is expected to conclude on Thursday.

<a href="">SOURCE</a>