A video has emerged of police in Queensland pulling a taser on a man with a neck tattoo allegedly linked to an outlaw bikie gang.
The Victorian holidaymaker was driving a hire car out of Gold Coast airport with his girlfriend when officers stopped it on the highway and told him to step out of the car.
An officer in the video said: “If we identify potential members of a criminal motorcycle gang we have the power to stop, detain and search you.”
The man indicated he wasn’t doing anything illegal, with the officer replying, “You don’t have to be, mate.”
In the video it emerged he was stopped because officers noticed a number “13” tattoo on his neck.
For outlaw motorcycle gangs (OMCG), the “13” symbol allegedly represents the letter M, the 13th letter of the alphabet.
This is believed to have a few meanings, with some suggesting it can stand for “murder”, “motorcycle” or “marijuana”.
When the man refused to hand over a mobile phone he used to film the altercation, tensions flared and one of the officers drew a taser.
The man posted the footage and a description of the incident to Facebook. It has since gone viral with more than 1.7 million views and 34,600 shares on Facebook.
Read the post and watch the video below:
The decision by police to draw the taser, on top of the random spot check, motivated the man to post the video to Facebook.
The post was quickly picked up by media outlets around Australia and debate raged in comment threads across social media about the merits of the police action.
Were the officers just being cautious and were they in danger? Or was the suspected bikie – evidenced by a tattoo on his neck – the victim of an invasion of rights?
‘QLD police need a reality check’
Queensland Police defended the actions of its officers.
Assistant Commissioner Brian Codd said the man was stopped because he had a neck tattoo from an outlaw motorcycle gang.
“There are numerous tattoos that are know through experience to be indicators of OMCG membership, and all I can tell you at this stage is that tattoo was one of those,” he said.
“It was coupled by other indicators upon interception about paraphernalia that relates to an outlaw motorcycle gang.”
He said the officer drew her taser because she was concerned for her safety.
“What we are seeing is a video from one person’s point of view,” Assistant Commissioner Codd said.
“What we are not seeing is what is happening in the eyes of the officer concerned.
“There are some circumstances of what we will allege that the man did that gave rise to a concern about the safety of that officer.
“That was the purpose of the taser being presented.”
He indicated the officers were alarmed when the man put his hand near his pocket and then allegedly back into his car, thus drawing the weapon.
Queensland’s tough bikie laws
The stop and search of the suspected Victorian bikie occurred under the nation’s toughest anti-criminal gang laws.
In 2013, former Queensland Premier Campbell Newman passed three laws aiming to crackdown on OMCG operation in the state.
Within the legislation, police were given powers to search and take the name and address of anyone suspected to be part of an OMCG, without a warrant.
It was also legislated – through the Tattoo Parlours Act 2013 – that OMCG members or associates, be banned from owning or operating tattoo parlours in Queensland.
When the laws were passed, the Queensland government said they could be expanded to other industries in the future.
In August, current Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk indicated the laws were in the process of being reviewed.