Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Australia: Gold Coast police officer will not face excessive force charge, crime watchdog finds

A Gold Coast police officer will not be charged over allegations he used excessive force while arresting a 51-year-old youth detention worker, Queensland's Crime and Corruption Commission (CCC) says.

The CCC has however recommended disciplinary action be taken against the officers involved.

Ray Currier and his two colleagues were arrested outside a Surfers Paradise bar about 9:00pm in January 2015, with the incident occurring after one was refused entry.

CCTV footage showed Mr Currier being surrounded by police, falling to the ground and being punched in the head.

Nearby tourists also captured the moment from a nearby balcony, showing police repeatedly punching Mr Currier in the head and chest before he fell to the ground where he was struck several more times.

Mr Currier made a complaint to the CCC, saying, at the time, he was trying to move the group on.

CCC chair Alan MacSporran QC said he accepted Mr Currier had appeared to be attempting to move everyone out of the area, as had been requested by police prior to his arrest.

Alleged police incidents:

    September, 2015 - Footage emerges of a Gold Coast police officer punching a handcuffed man in the face.

    September, 2015 - A man dies while being taken into police custody on the Gold Coast, he reportedly stopped breathing after struggling with police officers.

    September, 2015 - Gold Coast youth worker alleges he was assaulted by police outside a venue at Surfers Paradise.

    June, 2015 - Two police officers suspended in North Queensland over accusations of excessive force.

    May, 2015 - Senior Sergeant Chris Hurley - the police officer acquitted of the manslaughter of Cameron Doomadgee on Palm Island - and his partner are stood down over an alleged police pursuit and use of excessive force.

Mr MacSporran said one of the officers was clearly seen using force but could argue in court that he was acting in self-defence.

"The evidence showed police only applied force after the complainant refused to stop interfering in the other arrest despite a number of requests to move away, Mr MacSporran said.

    "Although the force used was significant, video and other evidence reveals the complainant's arm was wrapped around the police officer's thigh where his firearm was holstered when they fell to the ground.

"The CCC categorically accepts the complainant had no intention of removing or using the police officer's firearm.

"The officer was of the view his firearm may have been taken from him.

"This clearly raises a defence of self-defence for the police officer which the prosecution would not be able to disprove as required for a successful prosecution."

Mr Currier now suffers post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) from the incident and was too unwell to speak to media.

His wife, Kris Currier, said the outcome of the investigation was unbelievable.

"Like any other victim, when you don't feel that there's justice is being served, it's very hard for a person to move on," she said.

"I mean let's face it, Ray's rights were stripped of him. "We've lost all faith in the justice system."

The conduct of a number of police officers involved in the arrest, transportation of the man to the watch house and other interactions that do not amount to criminal conduct will be referred to the Ethical Standards Command with a recommendation they consider disciplinary action.

In an interview with ABC News last year, Mr Currier maintained he did nothing wrong.  "I've got a cold fury in the way we were treated," he said."It's not like we were a bunch of teenagers.

"I remember getting hit from behind and recall being on my stomach and I could feel my panic starting to rise."

Mr Currier is a Justice of the Peace who had worked in youth detention for nearly two decades.

Original report here

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