Alleged assault by police on disability pensioner extremely concerning

4th Apr 2018

Footage showing an alleged brutal assault by a number of Victoria police officers on a vulnerable, unarmed disability pensioner is extremely disturbing, the Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA) said today.

Recent media reports have alleged that Victoria police officers used excessive force in restraining people on several occasions, including alleged punches, kicks and repeated use of pepper spray, which have allegedly resulted in injuries.

ALA National President Laura Neil said that while she did not want to pre-empt the outcome of any investigation, it was essential that police live up to the expectations that accompany their respected and trusted position in society.

“The Australian Lawyers Alliance is extremely concerned about the footage which depicts what appears to be a brutal assault of an unwell man who was posing no threat, committed no crime and told police he did not want assistance,” Mrs Neil said.

“This footage is heartbreaking to watch. It appears to show a vulnerable man being dragged from his house and assaulted by police officers for no reason.”

“The man told police that he just wanted to be left alone. Instead he was treated with brutality,” Mrs Neil said.

Mrs Neil said that officers involved in unprovoked or disproportionate violence against community members should be removed from the streets.

“Members of certain quarters of the community have said that police brutality is ‘nothing new’. If true, this is incredibly disturbing,” Mrs Neil said.

“Police hold an important and trusted position in society. Strong police and community relations are essential for a peaceful and cohesive community. Police face risks every day to keep us all safe, and we thank them for that. However, when they treat members of the community with disrespect – or worse, violence – we all suffer.”

“Any abuse of the trust that we place in police officers must be swiftly and comprehensively dealt with, by thorough, independent investigation and appropriate sanctions,” Mrs Neil said.

“It is essential both for public safety and community cohesion that when an innocent person is assaulted that the perpetrator be appropriately punished, regardless of what their job is.”

“There is a clear need for police training to facilitate working with people from all walks of life without resorting to violence.”

Mrs Neil said that it is essential that police officers make clear the basis for forcing their way into the home of a person who said that he did not require assistance and just wanted to be left alone.

Mrs Neil said the ALA supported the introduction of body cameras for all community-based police officers.

Tags: Access to justice