Media statement by Ray Jackson, Indigenous Social Justice Association.
Emergency rally: Tuesday April 24, 1.30pm, NSW Parliament House, Macquarie St, Sydney.
Facebook event: http://www.facebook.com/events/340152409380043/
On Tuesday, April 24 at 1.30pm we will be holding a rally outside the NSW Parliament House to protest the violence and abuse of the NSW police as exampled by the circumstances at Kings Cross and five police-related deaths in custody so far this year already.
We will also be putting to the Barry O'Farrell government, and police minister Mike Gallacher specifically, that tasers be withdrawn from frontline police due to their lethality.
If you can make it to this rally and support us, please do. Help us to make justice - not just us!
The April 22 shooting of two Aboriginal teenagers in a stolen car at Kings Cross focuses the mind on the question, just how violent are the NSW Police Force and the police in the rest of this country?
I do not condone car theft - and yes, I have suffered having my car stolen - or any other crime for that matter. But I certainly would argue that the crime is hardly a hanging offence.
The allegedly stolen car had six young Aborigines, aged between 13 and 24, inside when the police drew their guns and fired through the windscreen. Why couldn't they shoot the tyres out? They didn't because they are not trained to shoot out tyres, they are trained to shoot to kill. Perhaps the occupants were armed. Possibly, trying to shoot out the tyres could have led to the death or wounding of civilians. The driver elected to attempt an escape, so we are told, and tasers were useless in this situation, so they pulled their Glocks and let loose. But then shooting the driver was no guarantee that the car would stop - it could have caused greater mayhem.
Whatever the rights or wrongs of that situation, what followed was police brutality at its worst. TV reports and still shots clearly show police exacting their own brand of punishment upon at least one of the occupants of the car.
Troy Taylor, the alleged driver, had been wounded twice: once in the chest and an arm/shoulder wound. Troy had a wound to his neck and he was seen to be bleeding profusely from his wound. Troy was dragged from the car seat with force that would have caused him further pain. Then the officer doing the extraction was seen laying into Troy with his fist.
It was obvious to anyone watching that Troy was definitely not resisting arrest in any manner. While on the ground, he was also knelt on as they put the cuffs on him.
(This practice of kneeling or sitting on the victim's back is a most dangerous act, as was evidenced by the knee-drop from Senior Sergeant Chris Hurley to Mulrunji Doomadgee on Palm Island, Queensland, in 2004 and the kneeling/sitting on the back of Terrance Briscoe in the Alice Springs lock-up in January this year. Positional asphyxia would have been an important causal link to his death. Still, police around the country continue to use this form of arrest technique as it is far safer for them to do so. Does the life of a police officer far outweigh that of any member of the citizenry?)
We then saw an officer grab hold of Troy's shirt and roughly drag him over the roadway like a sack of potatoes. He was then dumped face-down and cuffed, but one could see that he was still bleeding profusely. I have seen no visuals of the driver being extracted, but the procedure would have been the same, even though he was wounded twice. Both are in critical condition in hospital.
However, this disgusting and inhuman treatment handed out by those police involved at the Kings Cross scene comes as no great surprise.
In a four-month period, roughly, we have had at least five deaths in custody relative to police actions and two near-death events that could be fatal in one case at least.
- At Springwood, NSW, a 67-year-old man walked into Springwood police station and then collapsed and died. Nothing else is known about the circumstances of that death.
- In February, police around Bathurst were involved in a high-speed pursuit of a stolen car and other acts. The car eventually crashed and the two occupants were arrested and taken to Bathurst gaol, where the 22-year old-driver collapsed in his cell and died. He was offered assistance at Bathurst hospital, but - for whatever reason - he refused to comply.
- On February 21, Magistrate Geoffrey Dunleavey threw out a case against Phillip Bugmy of Wilcannia and charged the police instead for tasering Phillip in his home while he was on his knees with his hands behind his head. Sometimes, magistrates do stand up to the police.
- On March 18, police action led to the death of Roberto Laudisio Curti. Six police decided to play cat-and-mouse with Roberto as they chased him through the streets of Sydney. They had maced him and let him run blind. They then caught him and video shows them slamming his head into the frame of a shop window and again letting him run. They then tasered him at least three times and allowed him to run until he collapsed and died.
- On March 25, at the end of a police pursuit, the victim, Darren Neil, was cornered at a Westfield shopping centre where he was shot dead by the officer who had pursued him. Details are sketchy and we have only the police version to go on.
- On April 16, police in Tenterfield, NSW, were in a situation in which the victim seemed to be suffering a psychotic attack. It was alleged that he had a crossbow and a knife and threatened the police who were present. The female officer fired off a taser but missed, so the male officer drew his Glock and killed the victim.
- In Western Australia, a police officer who was in a high-speed pursuit of a stolen car ran a red light and crashed into a civilian vehicle. The woman died and the officer is being charged for dangerous driving.
We urgently need, as a society, to manage our police better and make them far more accountable for their actions and their mistakes.
For more information call Ray Jackson on 0450 651 063 or Raul Bassi on 0403 037 376
BELOW: A shocking mobile phone video of police abusing Troy Taylor, which was published on the Daily Telegraph website: