Aboriginal teen's family calls for officer's arrest

 

The family of an Aboriginal teen forcefully arrested at a Sydney park on Monday have called for the officer involved to be arrested and charged as police argue the incident was "not unprovoked."

Footage of the 16-year-old having his legs kicked out from beneath him as he was arrested in a Surry Hills park went viral on Monday as police launched an investigation into the arrest and placed the officer involved on restricted duties.

The family of the teen are now calling for the officer's arrest, arguing the leg sweep used constituted assault. They are threatening to take legal action if charges are not laid.

Addressing the media today, the sister of the boy said police treatment of the local indigenous community was "frightening" and the family were still reeling from the arrest.

"I cannot explain the anger and frustration we as a family are experiencing at this time," she said.

The teen's father briefly addressed the public, saying he was in solidarity with the family of slain American George Floyd.

 

Police Minister David Elliot says Australia has “a very strong government approach to indigenous affairs”.
Police Minister David Elliot says Australia has “a very strong government approach to indigenous affairs”.

 

The teenager was taken to hospital with minor injuries after he was released from police custody but was not charged with any crime.

In the video of the arrest shared widely online, the teenager allegedly tells a male police officer, "I'll crack you in the f**king jaw, bro".

The officer is heard replying, "What was that?" before telling the boy to turn around and put his hands behind his back.

The video appears to show the officer kicking the young man's legs out from beneath him before handcuffing him face down on the ground.

A bystander can be heard yelling "You just slammed him on his face. He's in pain."

 

PREMIER AND POLICE MINISTER RESPOND

NSW Police professional standards command is investigating the arrest and the constable involved has been placed on restricted duties.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian told ABC news today: "I think I thought what most Australians thought, and that is - we still have a long way to go in our country.

"What happened in the US is a good wake-up call for all of us, and I think that all of us have our hearts breaking as to what's happening in the United States. And we have to ensure that we can do what we can in our own country to protect all of our citizens," she said.

Earlier, NSW Police Minister David Elliot defended the officer involved saying he was "horrified" at the language used towards police.

"I was just as disturbed about the threat from a young person to physically assault a police officer as I was with the response," Mr Elliot said.

In response to a rally held in Sydney last night against indigenous deaths in custody and US police brutality, he defended police relations with Aboriginal communities, while acknowledging deaths in custody were "disgusting".

 

 

The officer is seen placing the boy’s hands behind his back. The teen suffered face, shoulder and leg cuts as well as bruising.
The officer is seen placing the boy’s hands behind his back. The teen suffered face, shoulder and leg cuts as well as bruising.

"The important message here is that Sydney is not Minnesota and the situation that we had two days ago in Sydney was not unprovoked," he said.

"I'm very passionate about making sure that our relationship with indigenous Australians is progressive and it's not regressive," he said.

"But I reject completely that we have similar problems that exist in the United States.

"And as somebody who served alongside overseas as an army officer, somebody who has served alongside indigenous army officers, somebody who has served as a parliamentarian alongside indigenous parliamentarians, I think we've got a lot to be proud of."

 

NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller
NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller

 

FAMILY ANGERED

On Tuesday, a relative of the boy told The Daily Telegraph he was not causing trouble or drinking at the time of the incident.

"The boys were in the park, they crossed the road and that's their hangout place. Police were patrolling the park a few times before they approached the boys," she said.

"He's pretty sore, he's got a few swollen bones today because he was walking with a limp leg last night," she said. "His family are pretty angry, any parent would be."

 

 

OTHER WAYS' TO ARREST TEEN

Police Commissioner Mick Fuller on Wednesday admitted there were "other ways" the officer could have dealt with the matter, rather than performing a leg sweep.

He said the officer in question had worked in the force for three-and-a-half years and had no record of complaints, and likely regretted the way he arrested the teen.

"Regardless of whether he should or shouldn't have been arrested, regardless of whether he has committed a crime or not, we certainly could have handled that situation better,"

Assistant Commissioner Mick Willing said the constable had used a "leg sweep" during the arrest and the investigation would examine if the use of force was appropriate.

"Am I concerned with the footage I've seen? Absolutely I'm concerned," he said.

"I'm equally concerned about others that may use this footage to inflame the situation into something it's not."

CALL FOR CHANGE

Indigenous law expert Dr Thalia Anthony said the footage was "shocking" and incidents of police using force against indigenous people were all too common.

"Police accountability projects have tracked some incidence of brutality, but it's much more widespread and continues because of the lack of oversight and accountability - especially where First Nations people are concerned," she said

 

Shadow Minister for Families and Social Services Linda Burney
Shadow Minister for Families and Social Services Linda Burney

 

It followed Labor MP Linda Burney's call yesterday for the nation to address the rate of indigenous imprisonment in Australia.

Indigenous Australians make up about three per cent of the population and about 27 per cent of those incarcerated. In NSW alone, 56 per cent of young people in prison are indigenous.

Since the royal commission into Aboriginal deaths in custody, there have been more than 430 more deaths in custody, she said.



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