Thursday, May 30, 2013

Second man accuses Victoria police officer of assaulting him

A POLICE officer accused of bashing a suspect with a torch pepper-sprayed a handcuffed man less than two months earlier.

Internal investigations cleared Leading Senior Constable Nathan Warrick of wrongdoing in both incidents, although the use of the spray was deemed "a poor option".

Leigh Harnden contacted the Herald Sun after reading a report about Geoffrey Craig Barnes' claim that his cheek was torn open by the torch-wielding officer and he was humiliated by being paraded in his underwear.

Mr Barnes is suing the state and Sen-Constable Warrick and another officer, claiming he was repeatedly assaulted, falsely imprisoned, humiliated, threatened, and locked in a cell for more than five hours, and then freed without being questioned about any offence or being legally arrested.

Mr Harnden said he was arrested after a disagreement with his ex-partner about his children's housing but was not charged. He is seeking legal advice about launching his own action.

Mr Harnden complained at the time to Victoria Police's ethical standards division about his treatment by police at Wyndham Vale in February 2010, saying Sen-Constable Warrick sprayed him in the face while he was handcuffed and under arrest; deliberately pushed him backwards into the rear of the divisional van, causing to him to hit his face on the door; and injured his left thumb and wrist while handcuffing him.

Mr Harnden's complaint was forwarded to local detectives, who found none of the allegations to be substantiated. They said Sen-Constable Warrick "acted in accordance with the law and accepted police practices, with the exception of (his) use of the OC spray".

Investigating officer Detective Sergeant Steve Daniliuk found Mr Harnden's injures were the result of his lawful arrest, with no evidence they were due to deliberate acts.

"The use of OC spray on this occasion was in response to a perceived threat of violence. However, its use would appear to be a poor option and one that I have recommended should be addressed through workplace guidance and training," he said.

Sen-Constable Warrick remains on active duty and will defend any case brought by Mr Barnes.

Police spokeswoman Natalie Webster said police managers had given the officer guidance about the use of OC spray.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Broome cop quits over assault claims

A 31-YEAR-OLD policeman accused of bashing a man in custody has resigned from the West Australian police force.

The assault on a 30-year-old man allegedly happened in the Broome Watch House on April 19 and was reported by a senior officer.

The policeman was given 21 days to explain why he should not lose his job but on Monday police said the man had quit the force.

The Corruption and Crime Commission has launched its own investigation into the matter and will hold public hearings next month.

Another officer implicated in the incident remains stood down from duty pending further investigation.

Police may be charged over the death of Brazilian student Roberto Laudisio Curti

A NUMBER of police officers who chased, restrained or tasered Brazilian student Roberto Laudisio Curti could be prosecuted for their role in the fatal confrontation.

The Police Integrity Commission (PIC) yesterday announced it had given a brief of evidence to the Director of Public Prosecutions recommending that the DPP give "consideration" to prosecuting possibly as many as five police officers.

The PIC did not reveal the nature of the charges that could be laid or the identity of the officers who had been singled out for possible charges.

The brief of evidence was believed to contain witness statements including those from medical specialists, some of whom gave evidence at last year's two-week inquest into the death.

Mr Curti, 21, nicknamed Beto, died early on March 18 last year after he was chased by up to 11 police officers through Sydney's CBD for stealing, while high on LSD, two packets of biscuits from a convenience store. Once he was captured he was tasered nine times and up to three cans of capsicum spray were used.

The struggle ended when Mr Curti was found to be not breathing and with no pulse. Police then began CPR.

Mr Curti's family said last night they hoped the DPP would give it "proper consideration" as they were still dealing with the "awful images of Beto being repeatedly tasered and capsicum sprayed on the ground".

The family said they were disturbed by the fact the officers were still patrolling the streets "despite the Coroner's findings of recklessness and the Ombudsman's criticism of the critical incident investigation".

In November, State Coroner Mary Jerram delivered a series of scathing findings but stopped short of recommending charges be laid, instead recommending five officers face disciplinary charges. The inquest raised questions about the dangers of use of Tasers and Mr Curti's family blamed the police for taking his life.

The PIC said it would announce whether charges would be laid when the DPP has responded to the brief.Curti died while he was in Sydney to learn English. He was staying with his sister who is married to an Australian man.

It was the morning after a night out with friends celebrating St Patrick's Day.

Gold Coast surf shop worker claims to be second man brutally bashed at Surfers Paradise police station

A GOLD Coast surf shop worker claims to be the second man brutally bashed while handcuffed in the bowels of Surfers Paradise police station.

Josh Gowdie, 21, is suing the Queensland Police Service for tens of thousands of dollars in damages.

He claims he was assaulted and thrown into a brick wall inside the Orchid Ave police station in December, 2011.

CCTV footage of the incident, obtained by Mr Gowdie's lawyers, was broadcast last night by Channel 9.

Mr Gowdie was allegedly bashed a month before chef Noah Begic claims to have been subjected to similar police brutality in the basement of the Surfers police station. He, too, is suing the police service for a six-figure sum.

"The police can't be allowed to get away with this sort of thing," Mr Gowdie told The Courier-Mail last night. "The two officers who did this to me are not fit to be in the police service."

Mr Gowdie said the incident happened in Surfers in the early hours of December 5, 2011, when he was "standing up for a female who got arrested".

He said police pushed, shoved and punched him in the street before hurling him against a brick wall in a passageway inside the police station.  "I didn't do a single thing to deserve it," he said.

"I told them I'd had shoulder surgery and they (police) said they'd dislocate my shoulder again.  "I suffered multiple injuries including cuts and bruising, grazes, claw marks and a chipped tooth and I still get flashbacks."

Mr Gowdie said he was speaking out now because he was frustrated at the slow pace of the police investigation.

A QPS spokeswoman said the investigation was ongoing.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Man bashed by Qld police to sue

A MAN allegedly bashed by police under the Surfers Paradise police station has launched legal action against the state of Queensland.

Noa Begic was arrested after a night out in Surfers Paradise in January last year and taken to the basement of the local police station, where CCTV footage appeared to show him being punched and thrown to the ground by officers.

The Courier-Mail posted exclusive footage of the incident on its website and all charges against Mr Begic were later dropped.

However, he has now taken legal action, engaging high-profile law firm Maurice Blackburn to sue the state of Queensland in a civil suit.  He is believed to be seeking a six-figure settlement.

A close friend of Mr Begic said it was taking a long time for the mental scars to heal after the ordeal.  "He was very anxious about police for a long while as you can imagine," said the friend. "He is trying to get on with his life and sees this as a chance to close the door on that chapter."

Two of the four officers allegedly involved in the incident remain suspended from duty while the Queensland Police Service's Ethical Standards Command runs its own investigation.

Mr Begic had been drinking with friends after finishing his shift at a Surfers Paradise restaurant when he was approached by police officers.  He was arrested and taken to the basement of the nearby police station.

CCTV then appears to show a handcuffed Mr Begic being flung to the ground before being punched several times in the head by one of the officers as he is pushed into the back of a police wagon.

One of the officers is then shown pouring a bucket of water over what looks to be a puddle of blood on the basement floor.

Mr Begic was charged with being a public nuisance and obstructing police after he allegedly directed numerous loud and abusive comments towards officers patrolling the Surfers nightclub strip.

The charges against Mr Begic were thrown out last June. Mr Begic has also asked the Queensland Police Service to pay his legal costs from that court action.

The ethical standards investigation into the affair continues, while an investigation is also under way into an officer accused of leaking the CCTV footage to the newspaper.