Tuesday 5 April 2022, 4:00pm
The Aboriginal Legal Service is calling for a NSW police officer to face criminal charges after a disturbing incident in which he touched the exposed nipple and stomach of an Aboriginal boy.
The Law Enforcement Conduct Commission (LECC) found the officer engaged in serious misconduct in his treatment of the 15-year-old boy, who was sedated and restrained on an ambulance stretcher at the time.
“When confronted with a distressed child being transported to hospital because of concerns relating to mental health and self-harm, this police officer touched the child’s nipple while making ‘turkey gobbler’ noises and laughing. A group of police officers present then laughed at this humiliating and degrading treatment of a child,” said Karly Warner, CEO of the Aboriginal Legal Service (NSW/ACT) Limited.
“This behaviour is cruel and dehumanising, and the response from these other officers demonstrates an even bigger problem in the culture of NSW Police,” Ms Warner said.
The Aboriginal Legal Service submitted a complaint to the LECC after the incident in 2021 and the commission’s findings were delivered today. The LECC report found the “incident involved disgraceful conduct by [the officer] and all those officers who laughed with and at him. It was conduct that paid no regard to the feelings of the child who was in their custody. No one seemed to remember that [he] was just that, a child”.
The LECC recommended that the Commissioner of Police “give consideration to the taking of non-reviewable action” against the officer who committed serious misconduct. The report recommended that four other police officers present at the time undertake counselling and further training.
Officers charged the child with assaulting police as a result of an altercation when they entered his holding cell, prior to him being placed on the ambulance stretcher. The charge was defended and dismissed by a magistrate who concluded upon viewing CCTV footage that officers had used excessive force.
“When this is the way Aboriginal children are treated by police, it’s no wonder there is a lack of trust in the community. Some police officers and many community leaders have worked long and hard seeking to build that trust, but this behaviour from NSW police erodes that opportunity,” Ms Warner said.
The Aboriginal Legal Service and the child at the centre of the incident are calling for charges to be laid against the officer who touched the boy’s nipple.
“This man did not protect and serve. He is not fit to be a police officer nor to be in any position of power over others, let alone children. Together with our client, we expect the officer to be terminated from the police force immediately, and for criminal charges to follow,” Ms Warner said.
Media contact: Alyssa Robinson – [email protected] / 0427 346 017
A media release from LECC (linking to the full report) can be found here: https://www.lecc.nsw.gov.au/news-and-publications/news/media-release-presentation-of-lecc-report-operation-kimbla