Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Police officer who punched a handcuffed man in the FACE as he was being arrested is cleared of any wrongdoing

<i>Spitting in someone's face is both grievously insulting and a health hazard.  To take immediate action to prevent a recurrence is just good sense</i>

A police officer who was captured punching a handcuffed man in the face while he was being arrested has been cleared of misconduct.

Senior Constable Ben Higgins was filmed hitting an offender after the man allegedly spat on him while he was being reprimanded in Morphett Vale, Adelaide in July.

The 22-year-old man was being arrested for disorderly behaviour and assaulting police, and was reportedly seen marking graffiti on a property.

With his head down and two female officers attending to his hands, it is alleged that the man spat at the senior constable - who retaliated with a punch.

The incident was filmed by the offender's cousin, who berated the officer, saying 'you're f**ked you dumb dog, you f**king pig.'

Constable Higgins' actions were investigated by South Australia Police, who released a statement on Friday clearing the officer of any wrongdoing.

'A review of the arresting police officer's actions in this matter was undertaken; and as a result, there will be no further action taken against that officer,' the statement said.

'As the original arrest proceedings are still before the courts – there is no further comment regarding this particular matter.'

South Australian Police Commissioner Grant Stevens commended Constable Higgins actions in keeping himself safe in the line of duty.

'Police officers regularly confront dangerous and often violent situations and they take their obligation to protect the community seriously,' Commissioner Stevens said.

'My officers should not tolerate being assaulted and I expect them to take reasonable action to protect themselves so they can go home unharmed to their families.'

'I fully support the professional way they deal with those in the community who think it's OK to threaten or assault police.'

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Indigenous TV host claims she was racially profiled by police while buying a bottle of wine in Australia's Outback. But was she?

A reader writes: "I have noticed that police in Northern Australia are generally friendly and chatty with the public.

I expect that in conversation with the female police officer in the bottle shop, Ms Grant informed her that she is filming a documentary in some areas around Alice Springs in which the police officer knew to be areas where alcohol is banned.

And the police officer would know that Ms Grant is from Sydney and may be unfamiliar with alcohol banned areas around Alice Springs. So the police officer considerately reminded Ms Grant not to take alcohol into those areas as penalties apply... Just a police officer doing her job.

In calling it racist, I expect Ms Grant has taken it the wrong way, either knowingly as part of maintaining a sense of victimhood, or, as an innocent misunderstanding.

However, Ms Grant is a smart, educated and well informed news presenter and documentary maker, who, for a living, encourages others to feel victimised and outraged, so I would bet money that she is playing the victim and knows very well the police officer was just kindly doing her job. And if so, then that would make Ms Grant the racist

An indigenous TV host claims she was racially profiled by a police officer while buying a bottle of wine in the Northern Territory.

Karla Grant, the host of SBS program Living Black, said she was targeted by a female police officer at a BWS Alice Springs who thought she was illegally buying alcohol to re-sell.

Grant told the Women In Media national conference on the Gold Coast on Friday that what followed was 'totally racist,' ABC reported.

'She focused in on me and said "have you got any ID? where are you staying?" I was so shocked and she didn't ask for my producer's ID, she just asked me, she really focused in on me,' Grant said.

'She said "you know there's penalties for this?" She was implying I was a grog runner, that I was getting alcohol to take to a restricted area,' Grant said.

Grant said the police officer continued to harass her, asking her where she was staying and why she was there.

The TV host said her producer was 'fuming' from the police officer's attitude.

'He was like "oh my God, this is so racist". I happened to run into a friend who was coming into the alcohol store as well and I told him what happened and … he said "it happens to us all the time".

Grant said that while racism in Alice Springs is on the decline, it's still an underlying problem within the community.

Northern Territory Police said they weren't 'aware' of the incident.

Grant said that when driving around Sydney and other big cities, she will detour to avoid police cars out of fear of being harassed.

She said being racially targeted by police is common concern for indigenous people.

Friday, September 6, 2019

Unjust police practices in Sydney

Sniffer dogs are as much part of Sydney life today as overpriced brunches and sudden public transport breakdowns.

We’re not just talking about the entrances to music festivals such as Defqon1 and Psyfari — the government has already pulled the plug on those events.

Take a wander through Sydney’s Central station during peak hour and you may well find yourself stopped by police, taken behind a semipublic barricade and stripsearched — even though, statistically, your pockets will probably yield nothing more illicit than a set of house keys.

In an especially baffling case last year, high school leavers had a dozen officers with sniffer dogs swoop in on their year 12 formal.

A report released last week found the number of strip-searches conducted in NSW has increased almost 20-fold in the past 12 years.

Research suggests the overwhelming majority of drug dog searches are fruitless; more often than not, no drugs are found, yet those stopped are still made to endure procedures such as strip searches and “squat and cough" tests many have described as “traumatic" and “dehumanising".

Police and the NSW Government maintain, however, that searches are necessary to keep the community safe.

This week, spoke to more than a dozen young people who had been stripsearched by police on suspicion of being in possession of illicit drugs.

Most requested anonymity, saying they feared reputational damage despite doing nothing wrong.

Here’s what they had to say.


Lucy Moore knows from experience how traumatic strip-searches can be.

In March, the 19-year-old was stopped by a drug dog at Hidden Festival in Sydney. She said she had just one drink at her hotel before arriving, and had neither consumed nor carried any illegal drugs with her to the event.

A police officer told her she had been detected by a sniffer dog, and she was taken away to be stripsearched in a semi-private space.

“Not only did I see other people being searched, during my search the door was left half open and only blocked by the small female cop. I could easily see outside, which means that attendees and the male cops outside could have easily seen in as well," Ms Moore said.

“Not only this, a girl in the cubicle next to me was also searched with her door still open with a couple cops entering and leaving at will."

Ms Moore said she was made to “squat and cough" — a practice that entails bending over and coughing under the eye of officers to see if drugs are concealed in the rectal area.

Experts say the practice is legally questionable due to restrictions on anyone but a medical practitioner conducting a body cavity search.

At the end of her “humiliating and embarrassing" ordeal, Ms Moore said she was interrogated, held for over an hour and ultimately still kicked out of the festival — all despite no drugs being found on her.

Legal experts tell there have been several cases in recent years of festival-goers being denied entry into events, even though they were not found to be carrying drugs and paid for valid tickets.

“It makes me feel disgusted, for police to constantly be breaching laws and taking advantage of young people who don’t know better. It’s terrifying," Ms Moore told

A status she posted about the incident in March went viral, with more than 2000 shares and 12,000 reactions on Facebook.

Ms Moore never received an apology from police and her ban from Sydney Olympic Park is still in place.

“I’m hoping we can get reform. Change is obviously needed to keep people’s privacy," she said.

“Only 30 per cent of people will be charged and almost all of them being for very small amounts of drugs for personal use — leaving those 70 per cent with a humiliating and traumatic experience for absolutely no reason. It has to change."

It’s not just festivals and dance parties where people are targeted. Police dogs are increasingly frequenting train stations, street corners, small pubs and restaurants.

One Sydneysider, who declined to be named, said he was stripsearched a few years ago at Marrickville Bowling Club, a lawn bowls centre in Sydney’s inner west.

“I was violently grabbed by the arms by the police and ma


It is legal for police to request a drug search if they have reasonable suspicion to do so.

But aspects of this process — such as what constitutes “reasonable suspicion" and the validity of the “squat and cough" method — fall into a grey area.

NSW Greens MP David Shoebridge, who runs the anti-drug dog initiative Sniff Off, has long advocated against the practice.

“Often you’re surrounded by six or seven police officers with dogs nearby. It can be very intimidating," Mr Shoebridge said.

“If nothing is found in that first search, what they should do is apologise and let people go on their way," he said.

But statistics show this is not the case, with people increasingly being taken away for full strip-searches.

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Tanya Day inquest: officer denies ‘false stories’ about extremely drunk woman

Drunks can be extremely hard to handle -- and Aborigines particularly so.  But when an Aborigine dies, the police are always suspected

The police officer responsible for making welfare checks on an Aboriginal grandmother who died after banging her head in police custody has denied he told paramedics “false stories".

Leading Senior Constable Danny Wolters denied to an inquiry into the 2017 death of Tanya Day that he had been misleading when he told paramedics the Yorta Yorta woman had hit her head just once.

“I don’t believe I put together any false stories," he said in response to questioning by Peter Morrissey SC, who is representing Day’s family. “I referred to observations."

Sen Con Wolters said he went up to Day's cells at 4.51pm and asked her if she was OK and she replied that she was.

Footage played to the inquest on Tuesday shows Day, who was heavily intoxicated, lying on her cell bed during checks at 4.17pm and 4.50pm. At 4.51pm she tumbled over the cell bench and smashed her forehead against a wall. The inquest heard the fall was ­ultimately fatal.

Day, 55, was arrested for being drunk on a train on December 5 in 2017. The coronial inquiry is examining the role systemic racism played in her death.

The inquest heard on Tuesday Sen Con Wolters asked to alter the timing of physical checks on Day from every 20 minutes to every 40 minutes, saying the physical checks were disturbing her.

The inquest heard he checked on her alternatively through the cell window and using CCTV, partly because of staffing issues due to Castlemaine police holding their Christmas party that day.