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Home / Outcomes / 2022 Summaries of Police Investigations

Eastern District: Allegation of assault in custody

27 October 2022

The Authority oversaw a Police investigation alleging that an officer punched the complainant in the head while in custody.

The Authority reviewed CCTV footage which captured the incident. The footage showed the complainant was awaiting an initial custody assessment, and they were in handcuffs with officers either side holding each arm. The complainant had been shouting at officers then turned towards an officer and spat in their face. The officer responded with a single strike to the head to create an opportunity to take the complaint to the ground and restrain them.

Police determined the officer’s actions were reasonable and taken in self-defence to prevent the complaint from spitting at them or their colleague again, therefore no charges were appropriate.

The Authority considered officers were already able to restrain the complainant without the need to strike them. In our view, there was sufficient evidence to place the matter before the court to consider the proportionality of self-defence. However, we agree the public interest test for prosecution was not met in the circumstances.

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