Thursday, October 20, 2016

Australia: Female police officer, 51, reveals how she was 'capsicum sprayed, stripped naked, beaten and jailed for 16 hours after being arrested for being DRUNK'

Being drunk is not an offence in itself

A policewoman, 51, was stripped naked, beaten, capsicum sprayed and held in cells for 16 hours for being 'drunk'. Yvonne Berry was allegedly assaulted by officers in Ballarat, north-west of Melbourne, in January last year.

She said the alleged brutality, captured on CCTV, made her think she was 'in Guantanamo Bay', she told ABC's 7.30 and Fairfax Media.

Ms Berry had been on extended leave from internal affairs, and the police involved did not know they were dealing with a fellow officer.

'If that's not why they were nasty to me, then they were just ... nasty to a member of the public, which is worse,' she told 7.30. 'It could happen to anyone — and I've since found out that it did, and it does.'

Ms Berry took time off in 2014 to deal with serious mental health issues which she partially attributes to dealing with the Victorian Black Saturday bushfires of 2009.

She said she and many other officers turned to alcohol after witnessing the trauma. 'I can still see the visions of all of that stuff today,' she said.

A local woman called police about 11pm on January 15 when she found Ms Berry drunk and incoherent. She was arrested when she tried to run away.

At the station, CCTV footage shows Ms Berry attempted to use a broken drinking fountain before gesturing for water. She drank from the toilet when she got no response.

When an officer later entered her cell, Ms Berry accidentally swiped her lanyard. She then reacted after seeing a bottle of capsicum spray and struggled with two officers until she was sprayed in the face. She said the spray 'burns like fire on your skin'.

Ms Berry was then allegedly handcuffed 'so tight they nearly broke my wrists', and photos reveal she sustained dark bruising.

She was then dragged on the floor to a cell. Facedown and still handcuffed, a male officer pulled down her underwear, apparently searching for the lanyard.

While she was still naked, a 95-kilogram policeman stood on her feet, stomped on her ankle and kicked her, the CCTV footage shows.

He later said he was trying to stop Ms Berry kick other officers, he told Victoria's Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission (IBAC). A female office said she had kicked Ms Berry to 'calm her down'.

But Ms Berry rejected their explanations. 'I was basically lying there like a fat jellyfish,' she said.

A doctor later said Ms Berry's ankle was fractured. Photos show she sustained deep bruising, cuts and welts.

'I was just thinking: "I'm in Guantanamo Bay. This isn't Ballarat, it can't be",' she said.

She was then scalded in a hot shower, which exacerbated the effects of capsicum spray, and officers ignored her requests to turn the water down, Ms Berry claimed.

One of the officers instead called her 'f***ing disgusting', in an apparent reference to her weight.

Ms Berry believes the officers involved should have been charged, with CCTV footage of her allegations.

But she was told in February this year there was 'insufficient evidence to support a criminal prosecution in relation to allegations of assault'.

The two police officers accused have been told they could return to work, and the only person charged over the night is Ms Berry.

She was charged in January this year with multiple offences, including resisting arrest.

She was also charged for theft of a car after police found a stolen vehicle parked outside her home.

But all charges against Ms Berry were withdrawn in August, following advice from a senior barrister.

Police are now considering whether an officer should be charged for the alleged assault and senior police have made an acknowledgement of wrongdoing.

Original report here

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