Police unlawfully assault bystander at railway station
Bystander moved by officers while recording a police interaction
Logan* alighted his train at a railway station when he saw a woman. She appeared to be having a mental health episode. Three police officers surrounded the woman. Logan stopped to watch the interaction when an officer approached him to ask what he was doing. Logan told them he was observing the incident. Then, the officer directed him to leave. Logan took his phone out and began recording the police interaction.
The officer told Logan he was obstructing a police operation, and that he would arrest him if he didn’t move on. Logan asked how he was obstructing the operation. Then the officer stood over him and grabbed his left arm. The officer turned Logan around and pushed him towards the exit. Another officer came over and the two officers escorted Logan to the entry of the railway station. Logan remained there and continued to watch and film the interaction. Several unknown police officers approached him again and told him they would arrest him if he didn’t move along.
Compensation for unlawful assault
O’Brien Solicitors initiated a claim against the State of NSW for police conduct at the railway station. The NSW Police Media Policy 2016 provides that:
‘members of the public have the right to take photographs of or film Police Officers, and incidents involving Police Officers, which are observable from a public space, or from a privately owned place with the consent of the owner/occupier’ (10.3).
The officers did not have reasonable grounds to believe that Logan’s presence at the incident obstructed police or another person or traffic. This contravened s 197(1)(a) of the Law Enforcement (Powers and Responsibilities Act) 2002 (NSW) (‘LEPRA‘). Further, the officers did not have reasonable grounds to give a move on direction for the purposing of reducing or eliminating the alleged obstruction. This contravened s 197(2)(a) of LEPRA.
O’Brien Solicitors argued that police assaulted Liam when they used their hands to grab and push him away from the incident. The use of force was not reasonably necessary to exercise a lawful function under LEPRA, contravening s 230 of LEPRA.
These contraventions resulted in Liam receiving compensation for his experience, as well as legal costs for pursuing the matter.
*We change names to protect the identity of our clients.
If you want to sue the police for assault or battery, 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.