A NSW Police officer has been acquitted of two counts of common assault after a District Court judge accepted that the force was reasonable and not excessive.
In 2019, Senior Constable Jeames Iaian Murray was captured on CCTV footage pushing Indigenous man Patrick Little‘s head into a wall, before throwing him into a cell door.
Last year, Senior Constable Murray was convicted of two counts of common assault and fined a total of $3,500 for his actions during the arrest.
It’s understood that District Court Judge Mark Williams accepted Senior Constable Murray’s version of events and quashed the convictions.
Disbelief in court result
Patrick Little’s lawyer told the ABC that the decision handed down from the District Court deserves the “closest scrutiny”.
The outcome came as a shock to Patrick Little.
“I cannot accurately say what the decision means for the future prosecutions of allegations of assault by police.
“But the decision deserves the closest scrutiny.”
A violent arrest at Goulburn Police Station
Patrick Little was 18 in 2019 when he was arrested for affray, and taken to Goulburn Police station.
Little is seen to get out of the back of the Police car and walks in line with police orders when Senior Constable Murray grabs the man by the neck and slams his head into the wall.
The officer then keeps Little in a headlock and throws him into the side of the police station cell.
Senior Constable Murray pleaded not guilty to both charges of common assault.
Murray argued that the footage didn’t portray the full picture and that there was ongoing resistance and violence from Little.
Setting a precedent for behaviour
Pejar Local Aboriginal Land Council CEO Delise Freeman stated that this result “sets out a precedent that this kind of behaviour towards Aboriginal people will be tolerated”.
“It breaks trust because the very people who are meant to serve and protect us and uphold the law are the ones who are harming us and getting away with it,” she claimed in a statement .
“How is the Aboriginal community meant to build a positive relationship with the police force when their actions and inactions have shown a continuous indifference to the treatment of Aboriginal people in custody?”
Ms Freeman said Goulburn’s Aboriginal community found it hard to believe Senior Constable Murray wasn’t wrong from watching the video.
“A conviction in this situation could have created actual change, it could have been a deterrent to show other officers that this behaviour won’t be tolerated, that there would be consequences,” she said.
If you’ve been affected by police actions, contact O’Brien Criminal & Civil Solicitors on 02 9261 4281.