Police aggressively arrest women for alleged domestic assault but ignore pre-existing health conditions
In this case study, police ignore pre-existing health conditions as they violent assault a woman during an arrest.
Woman arrested while walking home with her partner
Alice* and her partner walked home from the beach, fooling around by slapping each other and taking turns carrying an esky. Alice’s partner stopped and let Alice hit him. Two police officers watched this interaction on CCTV. They approached Alice and her partner to ask what was going on. Alice’s partner told police they were on their way home.
The police told the couple that they could not leave because the officers witnessed an incident. The couple attempted to explain that they fool around like this all the time, with Alice’s partner telling the officers that he enjoys it. The officers separated the couple while they were holding each other by grabbing Alice’s arm and pulled her away from her partner.
Police don’t take into account pre-existing health conditions
The officers told Alice to sit on the ground. She refused as it would be painful due to pre-existing health conditions. The officers then arrested Alice for domestic assault. Alice told the officers about her health issues, including the significant pain she experiences on a daily basis. She asked to not be handcuffed and to ride in a police car rather than a caged vehicle, because sitting in the back of a dark holding cage would trigger her claustrophobia. The officers ignored Alice’s requests and proceeded to handcuff her.
Alice experienced incredible distress. The officers lifted her into the air and threw her into the caged vehicle feet first. As she hit the ground of the holding cage, she felt excruciating pain from her neck to her legs. While driving, Alice slid around the back of the holding cage, unable to stop herself from colliding with the walls. Alice subsequently suffered a panic attack in the police cage. Once she arrived at the station, Alice was in detention for over 3 hours because her release.
She got a court attendance notice for a charge of common assault – domestic violence related. Later she also got a Provisional Apprehended Domestic Violence Order (ADVO). The charge and Provisional ADVO were withdrawn before Alice’s court date.
Compensation for false imprisonment, unlawful arrest, assault and battery
The conduct of the police officers showed serious disregard for Alice’s health and wellbeing. Alice approached O’Brien Solicitors to assist in a civil claim against the State of New South Wales. O’Brien Solicitors filed a Statement of Claim for Alice. We argued that there were several breaches of the Law Enforcement (Powers and Responsibilities) Act 2002 (NSW) (‘LEPRA’).
Firstly, the officers did not have reasonable grounds to suspect that Alice committed an offence under s 99(1)(a) of LEPRA or that arrest was reasonably necessary for one or more of the reasons contained in s 99(1)(b) of LEPRA. As such, the officers did not have a lawful reason to arrest Alice, and her arrest gave rise to a claim for false imprisonment. The use of force and threatened use of force against Alice was also unnecessary, contravening sections 230 and 231 of LEPRA.
The matter settled, with Alice receiving compensation for her experience and the payment of her legal costs.
*We change names to protect the identity of our clients.
If you want to sue the police for assault, battery, excessive force or malicious prosecution, contact O’Brien Criminal and Civil Solicitors on (02) 9261 4281. We can set up a free appointment with the civil lawyers in our Sydney office.