Police were called to the man’s townhouse in Madras Street by neighbours because the man was intoxicated, yelling abuse, gesturing rudely and throwing items from his balcony. Police initially warned him but returned to the house a short time later to arrest him for disorderly behaviour.
The man came out of his house and was handcuffed, with his hands behind his back. However, he became agitated and kicked the glass pane of the door with his bare foot. The man then lunged at one officer and was taken to the ground. The man also kicked the second officer in the head and upper leg while lying on his back.
The first officer warned the man not to kick him and tried to control the man’s knee with his hand. However, the man kicked the officer’s head. Immediately, the officer kicked the handcuffed man’s head with his booted heel. The man’s head hit the driveway and he was unresponsive for approximately 30 seconds. The officers called an ambulance, then took the man into custody.
The Authority looked at events leading up to the head kick by the officer and found that some of the language used towards the man was antagonistic. Having viewed CCTV footage of the incident, we did not accept the officer’s assertion that he kicked the man’s head to defend either himself or his colleague. Nor was the kick justified to overcome the man’s resistance to being arrested.
Further, we were concerned by the failure of both officers to inform the sergeant at the custody suite that the man had been kicked in the head and had lost consciousness.
“The footage of this incident circulated on social media at the time and drew a negative public response. It is not hard to see why. The footage indicates the officer had no need to kick the man and he could have stepped back and re-evaluated how to handle him. Further, the immediacy of the officer’s response to being kicked in the head himself indicates a retaliatory action in my view,” says Authority Chair, Judge Colin Doherty.