August 9, 2019

KMA v State of NSW – Aboriginal Elder receives compensation from police

Facts: Aboriginal Elder harassed by police

KMA, an Aboriginal Elder, was walking to a nearby supermarket from her sister’s home. A marked police vehicle, that had been following her earlier that day, performed a U-turn and stopped in front of KMA.

A police officer alighted from the car and asked KMA whether she was carrying any drugs in her bag. Police alleged she was carrying drugs because she had come from her sister’s home. KMA placed her bag down, to which police asked her if they could look into her bag. KMA did not reply.

A police officer began to search the contents of the bag and her purse. The police then looked at the amount of cash she was carrying and her ID, and began to perform identity checks on KMA using their police radio.

Police then proceeded to perform a pat-down search of KMA. Several people at this time had gathered outside the supermarket to observe KMA being detained and searched. KMA felt humiliated and began to shake and cry. Shortly after, the police handed KMA her bag and departed without an apology.

Later that day, KMA’s sister drove her to the police station and reported the prior interaction between KMA and the police.

Outcome: Police sued for assault, battery, false imprisonment and trespass to goods

O’Brien Criminal and Civil Solicitors were able to successfully assist KMA by bringing an action against the State of NSW for

KMA was distressed, embarrassed and humiliated when stopped and searched by the police officers. The State of NSW denied liability for KMA’s claims but agreed to settle the matter outside of court. After we prepared an offer of compromise, KMA was compensated well.