Saturday, December 20, 2014

Australia: Cop escapes conviction over Curti assault

A police officer who assaulted Brazilian student Roberto Curti during his fatal arrest in Sydney's CBD has escaped a conviction.
It has been more than two years since Mr Curti died in the early hours of March 18, 2012, after a chase and violent struggle with police in which he was tasered, handcuffed, hit with capsicum spray and knelt on.

Following an inquest into his death and a lengthy local court hearing into the matter, Senior Constable Damian John Ralph was the only officer out of three cops to be found guilty of his assault on Tuesday.

Shortly after handing down this decision, Magistrate Claire McFarlane placed him on a two-year good behaviour bond with no conviction recorded.

Ralph's lawyer Roy Hood told the court the serving officer, who has been on restrictive duties since December 2013, had been a "troubled soul" since Mr Curti's death.

In finding Ralph guilty of assault on Tuesday, Ms McFarlane said the senior constable had used at least two cans of capsicum spray on Mr Curti.

It was deployed within 15cm of the 21-year-old's face, while he was lying stomach down and being knelt on by other officers.

"While I accept in the heat of the moment he may have thought it was appropriate ... it's obvious it was not," she said.

But she found Ralph was a man of good character, who was unlikely to reoffend and suffered from post-traumatic stress as a result of the incident.

Ralph, along with his colleague Chin Aun Lim, were charged with Mr Curti's assault, while fellow officers Scott James Edmondson and Daniel David Barling were charged with assault occasioning actual bodily harm.

The court heard Mr Curti became increasingly afraid after taking the drug LSD before his death.

When he stole two packets of biscuits from a convenience store, it was incorrectly reported as an armed robbery involving two men.

When Mr Curti was later spotted by police, he had no shirt and shoes on.

He was tackled twice by police on Pitt Street before being brought to the ground on the third attempt.

He died at the scene.

Original report here

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