Saturday, February 27, 2021

Youtube streaming of NT police officer Zachary Rolfe's murder trial raised as concern in court


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<i>The cop is in court because the deceased is black. No other reason</i>

The murder trial of Constable Zachary Rolfe could be streamed on YouTube to Alice Springs and the remote community of Yuendumu, where 19-year-old Kumanjayi Walker died in November 2019.

At a pre-trial hearing in the Northern Territory Supreme Court today, Chief Justice Michael Grant said the court's administration was hoping to allow the broadcast of proceedings. He said it would be streamed to the courthouse in Alice Springs and at the school in the community of Yuendumu, about 300 kilometres north-west of Alice Springs.

"There would be a facilitator [in Darwin] who would close down the broadcast whenever court is closed, whenever arguments are being made in the absence of the jury and otherwise, whenever the trial judge ordered," he said.

Crown Prosecutor Sophie Callan said the prosecution would not oppose the streaming of the trial to Yuendumu, but questioned whether other members of the public could access it.

"I think the question, your Honour, is whether it's some form of private YouTube channel or access to which others could, would be restricted," she said.

Constable Rolfe's defence lawyer, David Edwardson QC, said he had concerns about whether this would mean witnesses could potentially access the proceedings.

"We'd be most concerned if the public — the wider public — could access it outside of the hall," he said.

"How would the court envisage ensuring that nobody who accessed the hall, for example, at Yuendumu, was in fact a witness or potential witness in the proceedings?" he asked the court.

Justice Grant acknowledged the concerns but reminded lawyers that any member of the public would be entitled to come to court and watch the proceedings.

"I imagine it will be possible to have a police officer located in the school hall at Yuendumu, able to give effect to any order the trial judge makes for witnesses to remove themselves from the premises," Justice Grant said.

He said he would raise the matter with court staff.

The matter will return to court at the end of March.

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-02-23/nt-zachary-rolfe-pre-trial-kumanjayi-walker-youtube-streaming/13183214

Thursday, February 25, 2021

Geelong police officer Sergeant David Magher found guilty on two counts of assault


A Geelong police officer has been found guilty of assault after kicking a man in custody three times to the side of his body.

Sergeant David Phillip Magher was charged with three counts of assault and suspended in 2018 by Professional Standards Command after kicking Andrew Birch as he was being transferred from a divisional van to a holding cell at Corio Police Station.

After a six-day contested hearing in the Geelong Magistrates' Court, Magistrate John Lesser found Sergeant Magher guilty of two counts of assault and dismissed a third count.

Magistrate Lesser said while in his view the first kick was "unnecessary", he could "not be satisfied beyond reasonable doubt the kicking action was not proportionate and reasonable".

"The second and third kicks stand out as of a completely different character to the first," Magistrate Lesser told the court.

"The level of force inflicted on Mr Birch [was] entirely inconsistent with the other members at the time, who had apparently obtained a measure of control of Mr Birch.

"They stood out as gratuitous and unnecessary and could not be justified as reasonable and proportionate use of force. As a result, there can be no justification for the use of force in those two kicks … which were delivered with considerable force.

"In the heat of the moment, Sergeant Magher crossed the line from the reasonable and proportionate … to the excessive and disproportionate and unjustifiable and therefore unlawful use of force on Mr Birch."

On September 21, 2018, then 36-year-old Mr Birch was arrested outside Corio Village Shopping Centre over a suspected armed robbery involving a knife and taken to Corio Police Station.

Security footage from the police station, played to the court, showed Mr Birch lunging towards Senior Sergeant Ian Kerin as he exited a police divisional van.

Sergeant Magher, who has been a police officer for more than 20 years, then kicked Mr Birch as he and Senior Sergeant Kerin pulled Mr Birch to the ground.

Mr Birch received two more kicks from Sergeant Magher as he was lying on the ground on his stomach with his handcuffed wrists pulled straight out in front of him and legs straight out behind him.

Magistrate Lesser dismissed the first kick on the grounds it could have been used as a tactic to make Mr Birch comply but ruled the two other kicks were excessive and unjustified.

Ten police witnesses were cross-examined during the hearing. All officers involved in Mr Birch's arrest agreed he resisted arrest, spat at officers, and screamed profanities.

Defence lawyer Stewart Bayles argued the kicks were "reasonable" and "proportionate" and were used by Sergeant Magher to protect the officers and himself from Mr Birch kicking out and spitting and to stop him from escaping.

In his closing remarks, Mr Bayles told the court a reasonable use of force "should not be equated with perfect or even best practice".

Crown prosecutor Sarah Thomas argued the kicks were an "excessive use of force that was not needed to seek compliance" and were instead used to punish Mr Birch for resisting arrest.

"When you view the video the inescapable conclusion is that these were three acts of gratuitous violence … toward someone who had given the police officers arresting him a hard time," she told the court.

Ms Thomas argued Mr Birch had stopped struggling "many seconds before" Sergeant Magher kicked him the second and third time.

She said all the officers, including Sergeant Magher, appeared relaxed on the CCTV as they prepared to move Mr Birch to a cell.

"The suggestion Mr Birch was on the ground for a lengthy period of time because he continued to be non-compliant, the suggestion by Mr Magher [Mr Birch] was kicking throughout, that was simply not correct," she said.

The court was told Superintendent Craig Gillard and Acting Inspector Michael Ryan reported Sergeant Magher to Professional Standards Command after Sergeant Magher admitted he used capsicum spray on Mr Birch twice during the arrest and told Acting Inspector Ryan: "I just wish I could delete the CCTV."

Mr Bayles argued his client never said that and accused Acting Inspector Ryan of lying.

Sergeant Magher will return to court later this week for sentencing.

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-02-23/geelong-police-officer-found-guilty-of-assault/13183434

Friday, February 5, 2021

Corrections officer charged over shooting death of Indigenous man


<i>Why?  It was part of an officer's duty to fire on a fleeing offender to prevent him escaping.  The Aboriginality of the offender explains the charge.  Blacks are innocent, don't you know?  All shootings of blacks are therefore suspect

It is true that shooting a fleeing felon in the back is disallowed for police -- with some justification.  But prison officers have their own rules and they are allowed to shoot at a fleeing felon if the felon would otherswise escape.  

And the guy fleeing in this case was a real bad egg who had previously got away with heaps.  So there was no call for mercy </i>


A NSW Corrective Services Officer has been charged with the manslaughter of an Indigenous prisoner who was fatally shot while handcuffed outside a hospital in northern NSW.

Wiradjuri man Dwayne Johnstone, 43, was shackled and running away from two corrections officers at Lismore Base Hospital when he was shot in the back on March 15, 2019. He was immediately treated in hospital but died a short time later.

Richmond Police District established Strike Force Degance to investigate.

Mr Johnstone’s death was the subject of an inquest before State Coroner Teresa O’Sullivan, who on the third day of proceedings referred the matter to the Director of Public Prosecutions.

Police say that, following extensive inquiries, a 57-year-old man attended Lismore police station on Friday and was issued with a court attendance notice for an allegation of manslaughter.

He is due to face Lismore Local Court on March 29.

The inquest heard Mr Johnstone, who had a history of escaping custody, had been taken to hospital while on remand after having an epileptic seizure in the cells of Lismore Court House, where he had been denied bail on assault charges.

As he was escorted back to the van by two corrections officers – one of whom was armed with a revolver – he “elbowed” the unarmed officer who had a grip of his pants, throwing him off balance, and started running. The officers cannot be named for legal reasons.

The inquest heard the armed officer fired three shots, and the third shot hit Mr Johnstone in the mid-back, going through his aorta, liver and diaphragm.

Counsel assisting the coroner Peggy Dwyer told the inquest in October that armed corrections officers carry guns but, unlike police, are not equipped with non-lethal weapons, such as Tasers, extendable batons or capsicum spray.

She said corrections officers might legally discharge firearms in a number of circumstances, including “to prevent the escape of an inmate” – with a number of provisos, including that a warning must be given and there cannot be reasonable grounds to believe the shot could hit another person.

https://www.smh.com.au/national/nsw/corrections-officer-charged-over-shooting-death-of-indigenous-man-20210205-p56zy9.html

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Australia Day Arrests as police clash with Invasion Day protesters


Peaceful protests calling for a change to the January 26 Australia Day holiday turned ugly as police clashed with protesters and, on one occasion, a protester was forcefully removed by bikies.

Thousands gathered for Invasion Day protests in Australia’s capital cities and in regional centres.

After hours of speeches at the Domain in the Sydney CBD, where police told protesters they could gather but not march, a number of protesters were arrested.

In Canberra, a man wearing a Make America Great Again cap and waving an Australian flag was forcibly removed from an Invasion Day rally by three men in bikie colours.

As he drove away, the assembled crowd cheered.

In Melbourne, thousands marched from Parliament House down Bourke Street after a peaceful protest in which police refused to remove their hats, a stance in line with police procedure.

The clash between police and protesters at the Domain in Sydney followed a warning from police. “If you do the right thing, I’ll do the right thing,” an officer told an organiser as 3000 people gathered.

NSW Police said five people were arrested including an 18-year-old man who was not part of the gathering.

One man was charged with assaulting police and one woman was charged with hindering police in the execution of duty.

Two other men were each fined $1000 and released.

Earlier, in the Sydney suburb of Newtown, a fresh mural painted by acclaimed street artist Scott Marsh emerged at first light.

It shows Scott Morrison dressed as Captain James Cook next to two words, “Captain Cooked”, and the hashtag #ChangeTheDate.

A speaker at the Sydney event, Gwenda Stanley, told a crowd of more than 500 people that it was time Indigenous Australians were given proper reparations. “A million dollars for each black person,” she said.

“Don’t be fooled by the Uluru statement from the arse. Let’s do reparations before treaty. A million dollars for each black person and than we can talk treaty.”

NSW Police Assistant Commissioner Mick Willing yesterday warned officers would not hesitate to ensure crowd numbers stayed under 500. “Do not come in and be part of that public gathering. Find another way to express your views and opinions,” he said.

“We are all aware that these are sensitive issues and they are very important issues to a lot of people, but we are still in the middle of a global pandemic and we’re asking people to abide by those health orders.”

Police will be able to issue on-the-spot fines upwards of $1000 but the penalty for breaching public health orders comes with a fine up to $11,000 and a six-month jail term.

The coronavirus pandemic this year saw Victorians unable to gather for an Australia Day rally because it was deemed a public health risk by the state government. But Melbourne City Council did approve an Invasion Day Dawn Service.

Melbourne Lord Mayor Sally Capp said the seated, 250-capacity service at Kings Domain was “a way of supporting an event that reflects that ancient Australian history”.

The January 26 public holiday has in recent years seen thousands of Australians take to the streets to protest against Australia’s national holiday.

Thousands have gathered outside Parliament House in Melbourne for a demonstration where a minute of silence was observed. Huge crowds are also peacefully protesting in Brisbane.

Organisers of the Sydney protest told news.com.au 3000 people turned up. “They allowed us to occupy the Domain and for the event to go ahead so long as there was a no marching so that wasn’t the compromise,” Ian Brown said.

Mr Brown, a Gomeroi man from Moree, said the Uluru Statement from the Heart which proposed a voice to parliament, was not the answer. “The statement doesn’t do enough. They have this idea the statement is a grassroots movement. There was no consultation done on my homelands.

The Invasion Day rallies call for, among other things, a changing of the date to reflect the fact that for some it represents more than the beginning of British colonialism when the First Fleet arrived at Sydney Cove in 1788.

They want it to be moved because that same date represents the “continued genocide of Aboriginal people”.

One of the key figures in the NSW Black Lives Matter movement has told news.com.au changing the date of Australia Day from January 26 will not be enough.

Paul Silva is the nephew of David Dungay Jr, a Dunghutti man from Kempsey, who died in prison custody in 2015.

“I’m here to demand the abolishment of Australia Day. It’s not significant to us as First Nations people. Over 250 years ago the First Fleet come in and murdered, raped and stole children of our ancestors.”

Mr Silva said the whole day needed to be abolished. “Changing the date is not going to make a difference in my view.  “That we allow Australia to celebrate a day when murders and criminal activity took place is just appalling.”

Mr Silva also hit out at Prime Minister Scott Morrison who last week stoked controversy by suggesting that those who arrived on the First Fleet didn’t have a “flash day” either. “Him making comments like that is just appalling. He basically condones what happened when the First Fleet come here.”

Lidia Thorpe, the first Indigenous woman in Victorian parliament, is using her platform to call for change. On Twitter, she wrote: “Too many Australians still think January 26 is a day of celebration, but for Aboriginal people across this country, it’s a Day of Mourning.

“That’s why I’m inviting communities, councils and organisations to fly the Aboriginal flag at half-mast on #InvasionDay.”

Invasion Day protests have been planned for Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Canberra, Perth, Adelaide, Darwin, Hobart, Newcastle, Rockhampton, Lismore, Albury and Lithgow

https://www.news.com.au/national/australia-day-police-vow-crackdown-on-invasion-day-protests-across-the-country/news-story/7c1abc3c0672086fdeae0c57a6f0fc83


Sunday, January 3, 2021

Three cops violently restrain an Aborigine who hit them while resisting arrest


<i>"Disturbing"?  Hardly.  What do you expect when a known crook hits a cop?

This is typical of the problems cops face when someone refuses to go quietly.  They have to use force but what exactly they do depends of what the crook does.  It all has to be done in seconds, leaving little room for making ideal judgments.  The cops do what they perceive as  needed in the moment even though armchair critics might think differently

And this guy was no innocent.  He had clearly heard of the George Floyd case and thought he could bluff the cops with his knowledge of it. His claim "I can't breathe" appears to have had no substance as he came to no lasting harm -- unlike George Floyd who really could not breathe and promptly died of his situation.</i>


A disturbing video has captured the moment police officers repeatedly punched and kicked an indigenous elder before pinning him to the ground and leaving him gasping for air during a violent arrest.

'I can't breathe' the man screams while lying on the narrow footpath in Campbelltown in south west Sydney. 

The ugly footage shows the 47-year-old being restrained by three male officers from the Campbelltown City Police Area Command at about 2.40pm on Tuesday.

The man, identified by a witness as Uncle Bud of Campbelltown, resists arrest and begins trading blows with police who react with force.

The video clip the shows the arrest taking a frightening when officers begin laying into the victim.  

One officer knees the victim while another throws a wild punch at his stomach. 

The indigenous man lashes out with his fist sparking a vicious response from the officers.

One policeman punches the victim in the face before he is wrestled to the ground and kicked once more for good measure. 

While pinned down the man repeatedly shouts 'I can't breathe' as witnesses berate the officers for their heavy-handedness.

The person who posted the clip to Facebook said the man received the 'royalty treatment' by New South Wales police.

But police have denied claims the officers involved did anything wrong.

NSW Police told Daily Mail Australia the man was seen riding a bike on Peppin Crescent in Airds when officers attempted to stop him.

He was wanted for breaching his bail conditions. 

NSW Police said he allegedly failed to comply with the order to stop and tried to flee but officers caught up with him when he lost control and crashed the bike.  

'It's alleged the man resisted the officers and punched a constable and senior constable multiple times to the head,' NSW Police said. 

'The man was subdued and during a search of him police located and seized an amount of methamphetamine.' 

The was later taken to Campbelltown Police Station and charged with the breach of bail, as well as three counts of assault police, resist arrest and possess prohibited drug. 

His bail was refused bail when he appeared at Parramatta Local Court on Wednesday December, 30.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-9105811/Shocking-video-captures-moment-three-cops-trade-blows-man-screams-breathe.html