Footage has emerged of Victorian police officers punching and kicking an unarmed, handcuffed Sudanese-born man, the latest in a series of videos published by the ABC and Fairfax Media.
The latest CCTV video, recorded in 2016, showed one officer bash the 23-year-old African-Australian with a handle of his baton and stomp on his back.
Police used violence after the man, who was having a psychotic episode, attacked a bus passenger and three pedestrians, and attempted to rob a pharmacy with a pair of scissors, cutting a bystander’s face inside the store, in the Melbourne suburb of Preston.
The man later pleaded guilty to armed robbery and assault charges and was jailed.
A subsequent internal police investigation cleared police of using excessive force.
WARNING: Footage may be distressing to some readers
However, the man’s lawyer, Natasha Wolan, said the force used by police was excessive, as he was already handcuffed and lying prone on the ground when he was beaten.
“Police are confronted with violence every day. It’s a very difficult job,” Ms Wolan told 7.30.
“But he was face down, he was disarmed, and at that stage I think the force was excessive.
“He suffered significant facial injuries, most of his teeth were snapped, he’s got ongoing back issues. He was taken to hospital after the incident because he was deemed not fit enough to be in police custody.”
The bashed man has taken his complaint to Victoria’s Independent Broad-based Anti-Corruption Commission (IBAC) after his initial complaint to Victoria Police was dismissed.
The sickening footage, published jointly on Tuesday by the ABC and Fairfax Media, followed another disturbing video of several Victorian officers beating a disability pensioner in his own front yard.
In that earlier footage, the pensioner, known only as John, was dragged from his house, pinned to the ground, beaten to the legs with a baton, sprayed point-blank to the face with capsicum spray, and then hosed down while officers filmed him.
Victoria Police Assistant Commissioner Luke Cornelius told the ABC on Tuesday night he was “very concerned” by both violent incidents, but that further investigation was best left to IBAC.
The recent rollout of body cameras across the Victorian police force would ensure the community was “in a much better position to secure accountability”, Mr Cornelius said.
When asked if it was ever acceptable to repeatedly punch, kick or stomp on a suspect’s head, the high-ranking officer said it would depend on the circumstances.
He denied there was a cultural problem within Victoria Police.
Responding to the beating of the disability pensioner, Ken Marslew, founder and CEO of anti-violence organisation Enough is Enough, said he felt “absolutely outraged” at the “over the top” response.
“Unless the police department looks into their behaviour, we really have a problem when we’ve got thugs actually supposed to be representing us in the community,” Mr Marslew told The New Daily earlier on Tuesday.
“That was unnecessary force.”