Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Man died after being restrained by police in Spring Hill, Brisbane

POLICE used a neck restraint on a man during a scuffle in a Brisbane park before he became unconscious and later died, an inquest heard today.

Carl Antony Grillo, 42, died in the Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital after the altercation with officers at Spring Hill on September 14, 2009.

Grillo was wanted by police for failing to appear in court in Caboolture Magistrates Court. He had been charged with drugs and weapons offences as well as breach of bail after being released from prison the previous month.

The Brisbane Coroners Court today heard one of the officers involved in Grillo's apprehension had used a neck restraint - a technique taught by the Queensland Police Service.

During their internal investigation of the incident, police said one of the officers had been in a scuffle with Grillo before he ended up on the ground. Another man helped that officer restrain Grillo before he was rolled into the recovery position.

Investigators said a second officer arrived and was talking to Grillo, but then the 42-year-old's breathing became shallower and an ambulance was called.

Witness Leith Phillips said she worked in an office block nearby and watched the drama unfold with her workmates. "We could hear some commotion outside. Because it kept going, we went out and had a look," she said.

Ms Phillips described two men pushing another "scruffy" looking man to the ground, who was tattooed and dressed in black. Once on the ground, she said the two men kneeled on his shoulder and lower back to restrain him. "The guy on the ground was sort of thrashing his head from side to side on the concrete," Ms Phillips said.

She said a third man arrived with a set of handcuffs, but the other two didn't get off him even after he was cuffed. She said one of the men looked around before giving the man on the ground a few quick hits to his head. "To me, it looked unnecessary," Ms Phillips said. "There were two guys on him, he was handcuffed, he wasn't going anywhere."

Ms Phillips agreed the hits were more like jabs but that they happened twice, and she discussed it with her colleagues. "We didn't believe there was a reason they needed to do that," she said.

Ms Phillips said she saw the men flip the tattooed man over and start talking to him, and she could see he was still breathing when they put him on his front.

But about five minutes later, she said they turned him over a second time and checked his vital signs. "When they got on the phone, we knew what they were doing. We assumed they were phoning the ambulance," she said.


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Qld. Police to be banned from investigating misconduct in their own ranks

QUEENSLAND police will be banned from investigating serious misconduct in their own ranks with private investigators or interstate officers to be used instead, under new State Government policy.

It is one of 57 recommendations from a three-person independent panel into the police complaints, discipline and misconduct system and was adopted by State Cabinet this week.

But Premier Anna Bligh has been accused of being "secretive" by sitting on the decision and not telling police or the public immediately.

The Queensland Police Union also said it was "payback" for last week's wage win in the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission, which will cost the Government an extra $87 million. "For the State Cabinet to secretly endorse changes to the Queensland Police Service and not tell anyone about it smacks of underhandedness of the highest order," QPU president Ian Leavers said.

"The Queensland Government should have had the honesty and the integrity to inform police of all the changes they had made when they actually made them."

Currently, the Crime and Misconduct Commission seconds QPS officers to investigate serious complaints.

The other recommendations, which are also expected to be implemented, include:

* Additional power for the CMC to change disciplinary decisions by the QPS if they deem them too lenient.

* New timeframes for reporting.

* Limited tenure for police and CMC officers in the Ethical Standards Command.

* Creating a joint CMC and QPS "ethical health scorecard" .

* Development of a business case for targeted drug and alcohol testing for police.

A spokeswoman for Ms Bligh denied there was anything secret about the initiatives, which were part of the Simple Effective Transparent Strong report, tabled in Parliament in May.

However, she would not say why an announcement on their adoption had not been forthcoming and did not deny a decision had been made.

The Premier said last night, in a statement, the Government was committed to releasing its response by the end of August. "There are 57 recommendations and we are giving our consideration to all of them," she said. "What's more I have asked for more work to be done around a number of them, and the Government is on track to release its full response as promised by the end of August."

Mr Leavers said the new system would "add significant costs and expenditure to the Queensland Budget at a time when we need to be spending every government dollar on frontline services not more pointless bureaucracy".


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Queensland police misconduct files reveal corruption, favouristism, sexual misconduct

A POLICE officer said he would let a woman off for mail theft if she had sex with him, another three officers were caught stealing while on duty and 10 more were nabbed for drink-driving - including one on the way to work, fraud and misconduct investigations have revealed.

More than 20 Queensland police officers have quit in the past 18 months after being investigated over serious incidents ranging from corruption and favouritism, sexual misconduct and inappropriate behaviour.

However, most of those investigations were subsequently dropped because they were no longer employed by Queensland Police Service, documents obtained by The Courier-Mail under Right to Information have revealed.

Other misconduct investigations that were substantiated included one where a police officer demanded a woman he was investigating for mail theft "show him her breasts", then proceeded to sexually assault her.

The (police officer) told her he had "bent a few rules", that he would "take care of a few charges and not prosecute her", documents reveal.

There are thousands of code of conduct complaints against police officers each year but a Queensland Police Service spokesman said only a "small fraction" were substantiated following investigations.

Other internal investigations into officers include:

* "Maintaining a relationship" with a career criminal and driving him away from a crime scene following an assault.

* Child pornography found on home computer.

* Pole dancing with a pool cue on top of a pool table and then inappropriately touching another officer in view CCTV cameras.

* Keeping nine guns under bed.

* Accessing police files for personal use.

Most officers caught drink-driving remained on the police force but lost their driving licences for a period of time after the matters were heard in court.

Queensland Police Union president Ian Leavers said it was not surprising in a workforce of 15,000 people.

"The important issue is that these people have been identified and have either been dismissed, resigned or have been provided with managerial guidance to address their behavior so that they continue to maintain the high standards of the Queensland Police Service," he said.

"The police union does not support any person who deliberately engages in criminal, corrupt or illegal behavior but sometimes people genuinely make mistakes and we will always support those police involved," Mr Leavers said.


CORRUPTION AND FAVOURITISM: The officer demanded a woman he was investigating for mail theft to "show him her breasts and sexually assaulted her". He took her for a drive in a police vehicle, "removed his penis from his pants and demanded oral sex". He later telephoned the woman he was investigating seeking phone sex and told her he'd "bent a few rules" to take care of the charges against her and see that she wasn't prosecuted. The investigation was substantiated and the officer resigned.

SEXUAL MISCONDUCT: Taskforce Argos found images of child exploitation material on the officer's home hard drive. He had been accessing the material over a number of years. The officer resigned and court action was taken.

CORRUPTION AND FAVOURITISM: An officer maintained a relationship with a career criminal who was under witness protection, even being prepared to drive him away from the scene of an assault before police arrived. Officer resigned and the investigation did not reach a conclusion.

CORRUPTION AND FAVOURITISM: The officer took a body to the undertaker where his wife worked. He resigned from QPS and the investigation did not reach a conclusion.

INAPPROPRIATE BEHAVIOUR: The off-duty officer was on top of a pool table and "pole dancing" with a pool cue. She approached a woman, placed her arm around her shoulders and neck, squeezing tight. There was CCTV footage of the incident and the officer resigned and the investigation did not reach a conclusion.

PUBLIC NUISANCE: The officer's brother failed to leave a licensed premises, was arrested and taken to the police station following a joint drinking session. The off-duty officer then banged on the station's front door loudly, yelled abuse at police and was drunk. His brother was released and went back to the hotel to join the officer after being refused entry. When police arrived, the officer was involved in a fight at the hotel. When his police colleagues tried to intervene, the officer pushed them away, swore and abused them. He was taken away by a friend before he was arrested. The officer resigned.

INAPPROPRIATE BEHAVIOUR: Officer picked up intoxicated youths who he knew as part of "Adopt-a-cop" and drove them around for hours and let them sleep at his home. He was provided with "managerial guidance".

EXCESSIVE FORCE/ASSAULT OFF DUTY: The complainant alleges the officer punched him in the face when an argument broke out during a drinking session. The officer has since died.

COVERING UP INAPPROPRIATE CONDUCT: Officer lied about a speeding fine after being caught doing 91km/h in a 70km/h zone. He falsified a report claiming he was "speeding to intercept a white van following too close to another vehicle". The officer now admits he did not intercept the vehicle and at the time he had "accumulated near maximum points on his drivers licence".

STEALING: An officer used a police car to transport fence panels he stole while on night patrol. They were later erected in his own front garden. He was helped by another officer. One of them resigned - also suspected of stealing shed panels - and both were ordered to undertake 120 hours of community service and pay restitution.

STEALING: An officer was in possession of a ute that had been reported stolen and the insurance claim had settled. The officer resigned and was fined $1000 and given a 12 month good behaviour bond.

STEALING: An officer attended a break and enter at a private business and convinced the owner that an industrial-grade high-pressure cleaner would be seized as evidence and then destroyed. In actual fact, the officer took the cleaner home. He was also accused of stealing paint tins from the scene of a fire. The officer resigned and the investigation did not reach a conclusion.


Saturday, August 13, 2011

Qld. Police suppress 'appalling' video of misbehaviour by one of their own

A video showing an anti-terrorism squad officer stripped to his underpants and gyrating his groin in the face of a drunk Aboriginal colleague has been suppressed at the request of Queensland Police.

The suppression order comes ahead of the release of a major review of police disciplinary procedures, raising further questions about the culture within Queensland’s police force and why the officer was not sacked.

The security camera footage, taken at the McDonald’s restaurant in the south-east Queensland town of Kingaroy on March 23 last year, shows Constable Daniel Kennedy straddling the Aboriginal officer while nine other non-indigenous officers watched on.

Constable Kennedy’s actions came to light when police reviewed the footage during an investigation into the Aboriginal officer’s arrest at the restaurant late on the first night of the state’s annual police rugby league carnival.

A Queensland Police report into the incident described Constable Kennedy actions thus: "You approached …removed your shorts, lifted your left leg and gyrated your groin in front of his face."


The Special Emergency Response Team officer’s actions were described as “appalling” by Deputy Commissioner Ian Stewart, who presided over an internal police disciplinary action last November.

"I have seen the footage and I am appalled by your behaviour … I am sure that had members of the public witnessed your behaviour, they would have been affronted by it … In your case, not only did you commit an act resulting in your conviction for a public nuisance offence but, if observed by a member of the public, it had the potential not only to be seen as offensive but also taunting the dignity of [the other officer], together with racial overtones."

Deputy Commissioner Stewart delivered his findings in the presence of Constable Kennedy, who denied it was a racist act.

However, Deputy Commissioner Stewart found Constable Kennedy’s conduct had “tarnished the good image of the majority of members of this organisation, which we strive to maintain …”

“Additionally your conduct had the potential to result in significant publicity and embarrassment to the Service and its members,” he said.

Deputy Commissioner Stewart's report said that Constable Kennedy had kept his underpants on, but an investigation had revealed the incident with the intoxicated and sleeping Aboriginal officer was not consensual.

“I note the argument submitted that your actions were done in jest and not intended to offend your friend,” Deputy Commissioner Stewart said. “I acknowledge there is no evidence you exposed yourself or that there was any contact, deliberate or accidental, between your genital area and [the other officer]. Further [he] has regarded this as a joke.”


Queensland's administrative appeals tribunal, QCAT, has ordered the CCTV footage never be shown.

An application by SBS for its release was denied, in spite of assurances to conceal the Aboriginal officer's identity.

Tribunal member Susan Booth ruled the footage is "capable of offending public decency" and could still cause the officer public ridicule and humiliation.

Former Queensland police inspector Col Dillion, once the highest ranking Aboriginal officer in Australia, retired a decade ago warning of the police culture towards indigenous officers.

“I think it is absolutely reprehensible, the actions of the police … given for starters, the police officer, any police officers for that matter should be setting the highest possible standards of behaviour for society,” he said.

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Service's Greg Shadbolt said Constable Kennedy’s actions had besmirched the reputations of his colleagues.

“The Queensland police service has the largest vested interest in cleaning up this area because there are many many officers who work long and hard in very trying circumstances, and do a tremendous job, as a general rule, and for them to have their reputation besmirched by conduct of this nature is really beyond the pale,” he said.

“One must feel really sorry for the other officers and wonder what they must think of all this.”

The Aboriginal officer did not lodge a complaint about the incident. He declined to be interviewed by SBS.

$250 FINE

The police disciplinary report states Constable Kennedy “did not believe his actions were inappropriate when he considers the circumstances of the incident. He stated this type of behaviour had occurred at other police football carnivals".

He was immediately stood down from anti-terrorism duties and later pleaded guilty to public nuisance, for which he was fined $250 with no conviction recorded in Kingaroy magistrates court.

Despite suppressing video of the incident, QCAT rejected a police application to suppress an audio recording of the deputy commissioner Ian Steward's disciplinary hearing, citing public interest.

It reveals that Constable Kennedy’s pay was frozen for a year, but this did not prevent his reinstatement to the elite Special Emergency Response Team.

ATSILS’ Greg Shadbolt said the outcome seemed “woefully inadequate”. “As I say, it really does demonstrate yet again the fact that police investigating police in terms of outcomes, simply doesn't work,” he said.

Mr Dillion, now the acting director of the University of Queensland's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies Unit, said if a similar incident took place in that institution, the offender would be sacked.

“I'd certainly expect the person would be dealt with in the harshest possible terms,” he said.

In a brief statement to SBS, Queensland's police minister (mr) Neil Roberts said the issue is an internal police matter

A review of police disciplinary procedures ordered by Queensland premier Anna Bligh is due for release by September. It comes after the lack of disciplinary action against police investigators in the Palm Island death-in-custody case of Cameron Doomadgee. The issue of police investigating police is a major concern of the review.

Mr Shadbolt said the facts of the Kingaroy incident were not in question, placing the focus on Constable Kennedy’s punishment. “Anyone else, working for any other organisation would have been dismissed and the question I think the public is asking is should the police have lower standards than the rest of society,” he said.

Queensland Police told SBS the matter had been investigated by its Ethical Standards Command, and that “disciplinary charges were laid against this officer in accordance with the findings of that investigation”.


Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Renee Eaves vs. Barry Donnelly and the Qld. Police heating up

From Last March:
A former swimsuit model is suing the Queensland Police Service for $200,000 in damages, claiming she was repeatedly harassed by a traffic policeman and wrongfully arrested.

Gold Coast mum Renee Eaves, 34, is claiming a former Brisbane constable intercepted her 15 to 20 times between 2004 and 2006 and was known to regularly park outside the Brisbane unit she lived in at the time.

In a statement of claim lodged in the Brisbane District Court, the former Miss Bikini World said the officer often pulled her over for minor traffic infringements and once fined her for being a car passenger with a twisted seatbelt.

Apparently the case goes to court this coming Monday. An interesting twist is that Crown Law are apparently trying to spy on Ms Eaves. Sherman Oh, for the Crown Solicitor, inadvertently copied Ms Eaves in on an email in which he said he was going to try to get the Justice Dept. to break into her restricted Facebook page. I understand that the Sunday Mail are at the moment looking into that extraordinary behaviour. Ms Eaves has got somebody rattled!

Donnelly is still in the force apparently. My interpretation is that he tried to get free sex off Ms Eaves but when she knocked him back he got vindictive.