Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Thug Qld. Cop loses appeal against finding that he used excessive force in arrest of boy, 15

A FORMER police officer has lost an appeal against a finding he used unauthorised and unjustified excessive force in the arrest of a 15-year-old boy almost five years ago.

The Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal has dismissed an appeal by former police sergeant Damien Chapman to overturn a tribunal finding that he used excessive force while arresting the teen at Clontarf, north of Brisbane, on May 18, 2007.

Chapman was initially cleared after an internal Queensland Police Service investigation by then QPS deputy commissioner Kathy Rynders. [Dear Kathy again]

However, that resulted in the matter being referred to QCAT by Queensland's criminal watchdog the Crime and Misconduct Commission. The CMC asked QCAT to review commissioner Rynders' findings and last November the tribunal overturned her decision and found that Chapman had used excessive force.

The 15-year-old, who was not responsible for the offence for which he was arrested, suffered a severely ruptured spleen, which doctors found was the result of blunt force to the area underneath his ribs.

At the original QCAT hearing, Chapman's defence argued the medical report was too inconclusive to say without doubt how the injury occurred. QCAT members James Thomas and Susan Booth disagreed, saying they were satisfied Chapman struck the boy without "authorisation, justification or excuse by law".

They were also critical of the internal police investigation, which they likened to "a relic of earlier armed service orderly room procedure".

QCAT president Alan Wilson, in a just-published 10-page decision, rejected Chapman's appeal, saying it "must be dismissed".

Justice Wilson, presiding in the tribunal's appeals jurisdiction, said the original finding was proper in all of the circumstances.

He said Chapman's appeal had focused on "numerous questions of law", but mainly argued the tribunal's decision was "contrary to, and against, the weight of evidence". "None of (Chapman's) grounds of appeal are made out," he said.

Chapman resigned in the wake of the QCAT ruling. Justice Wilson said during a follow-up hearing the tribunal found it would have ordered he be dismissed had he not already resigned.


Monday, February 20, 2012

More barefaced lies from the Qld. police

It would become them a lot better if they stopped lying and came clean but they know they are a protected class so have nothing to lose

But they must be rattled now that a newspaper has obtained a copy of the totally dishonest official charge sheet. There is obviously a decent police insider who is disgusted with them

POLICE will describe the shocking bashing of a young man in the basement of a Gold Coast police station as "a brief struggle".

CCTV footage showing officers manhandling, kneeing and punching 21-year-old chef Noa Begic at Surfers Paradise police station has gone viral since it was obtained by The Courier-Mail last week.

One of the officers involved already has been pulled from frontline duties while a joint Ethical Standards Command and Crime and Misconduct Commission investigation is under way. Police are also investigating how The Courier-Mail obtained the video.

The newspaper has obtained a copy of the official charge sheet, with the arresting officers painting a different picture of what happened in the early hours of January 29.

The police statement reports Mr Begic landed face-first on the basement floor because he slipped out of the hands of officers and fell over.

"The defendant planted his feet ... and pushed towards police in a rapid movement which caused police to lose hold of the defendant," the statement reads. "The defendant then fell to the ground."

According to police, Mr Begic then stood up and continued resisting so violently he again fell, dragging officers down with him, despite their repeated instructions to "stop resisting". "After a brief struggle the defendant was secured in a prisoner transport van," the statement continued.

There is no mention of the flurry of punches that followed once Mr Begic was placed in the back of the wagon. The court brief lists the CCTV footage as evidence to support a charge of obstructing police. Police also will call upon footage from Gold Coast City Council cameras in the area where the arrest took place.

It will be alleged Mr Begic was at the corner of Cavill Ave and Orchid Ave about 3.10am with a group of friends when he was approached by police for swearing loudly in reference to two other officers.

The police statement alleges Mr Begic refused to answer questions and laughed loudly at police "on two occasions". He was arrested on a charge of public nuisance relating to his indecent language and escorted to a nearby police car where his "abusive, indecent language and aggressive behaviour" escalated as he demanded to know why he had been arrested.

Mr Begic, who is considering a civil lawsuit against police, will face court in April charged with public nuisance and obstructing police.


Saturday, February 18, 2012

Qld. cops to investigate their own toothless watchdog

QUEENSLAND police have been told to investigate the state's corruption body for failing to interview a decorated former homicide detective named in the Dangerous Liaisons report.

Dangerous Liaisons - released in July 2009 by the Crime and Misconduct Commission - detailed various allegations against 25 police officers.

Former homicide detective Darren Hall said the CMC did not interview him during its five-year investigation. No charges were laid against any of the 25 officers.

Yesterday, the Parliamentary Crime and Misconduct Committee, which oversees the CMC, informed Mr Hall the matter had been referred back to police. "The committee has resolved to ask the police service to investigate your complaints and provide a report on the matters to the committee," a letter addressed to Mr Hall said. "The committee will be in further contact with you once it has received and considered the report from the Queensland Police Service."

Mr Hall said he only wanted justice to be served properly after the report ruined his career. "I suppose hopefully it will mean it will be investigated," he told The Courier-Mail. "And that they will be brought to justice for what they haven't done during those five years - which is interview me and give me a chance to defend myself."

The order for police to investigate the CMC provides another twist to their rocky relationship which was heavily damaged during the investigation into the 2004 death of Mulrunji on Palm Island.

The latest development follows a push from Independent MP Rob Messenger for an inquiry. "This matter casts serious doubt over the integrity of the CMC both past and present," Mr Messenger said. "I have grave doubts that the Queensland police force is up to the task of investigating it and I believe the only solution is for an independent inquiry and I'd hope and demand that (LNP leader) Campbell Newman will support me with my call - and I won't waste my breath with (Anna) Bligh or Labor."

Lawyer Greg Williams, who has supported Mr Hall in his fight, said he believed it was a "world first" for a police force to investigate its own corruption body.

"Even the CMC is not immune to scrutiny - and they shouldn't be," he said. "I believe they have failed miserably by not giving Darren an opportunity to respond to allegations made in their report."

Top defender for bashing defendant

ALLEGED police bashing victim Noa Begic will be represented by the lawyer who defended wrongly accused terror suspect Mohamed Haneef.

The 21-year-old chef is facing minor charges of public nuisance and obstructing police over his arrest in the early hours of January 29 in Surfers Paradise.

But he is also considering launching a civil action against the police officers who allegedly left him bashed and bloodied in the basement of the Surfers Paradise police station - an incident made public when The Courier-Mail revealed the CCTV footage.

Peter Russo, who helped Dr Haneef beat terror charges, met Mr Begic yesterday and confirmed he would represent him in court, but was reluctant to comment further. "It's very early days," he said.

Mr Begic also has another white knight in his corner - a former model who took on the police and won after five years of harassment and intimidation.

Renee Eaves leapt to Mr Begic's defence and said she would use her experience to help the young dad if he took on the police service in court. She arranged for him to meet Mr Russo, one of Queensland's highest-profile lawyers.

"Police can use what they call 'reasonable force', but how much force is needed when someone is handcuffed and locked in the back of a wagon?" she asked. "I would say none."

Police Commissioner Bob Atkinson has stood by his comment that officers can be justified in punching aggressive offenders, but insisted his words were not in support of those involved in the bashing.

He asked Queenslanders not to lose faith in their police service after footage emerged of a handcuffed man being bashed by officers.

The incident is now subject to a joint investigation by Queensland police and the Crime and Misconduct Commission.

One officer has been removed from operational duties.

"Nothing I said on Wednesday in any way suggested I was supporting the officer who is the subject of the investigation," Mr Atkinson said.


Friday, February 17, 2012

Police lie to cover for each other, claims former homeless man who was bashed in Queen St Mall

A FORMER homeless man bashed by police in Brisbane's Queen St Mall has urged the young victim of an alleged Gold Coast police assault to fight for justice.

But Bruce Rowe, who launched Queensland's first successful private criminal prosecution against police, warns Noa Begic faces "a long, hard road ahead of him". Mr Rowe, 71, said his own lengthy - and ongoing - battle for justice was frustrated by a police "code of silence" which he believed still existed. "They will lie to protect each other," he said.

Mr Rowe, an engineering graduate who became homeless after the death of his wife of 41 years, was held down and assaulted by police in the mall in 2006 and charged with obstruction and disobeying a direction.

He launched a rare private prosecution after police cleared the five officers involved and the Court of Appeal overturned his conviction.

Last February, the officer who kneed Mr Rowe, Constable Benjamin Arndt, was found guilty of common assault and ordered to pay $3250 in a fine and legal costs. He has launched a District Court appeal. The CMC is believed to be close to completing an investigation into the officers involved.

Mr Rowe said he had seen the video footage of the Begic incident, obtained exclusively by The Courier-Mail, and it was "appalling". He said it had brought up chilling memories of his own ordeal.

"You can't see him (on the video) fighting back or doing anything yet they (the police) are getting stuck into him which is very similar to what happened in my case," he said. "I never resisted and never touched them but they got stuck into me, too.

"Even if he (Mr Begic) has sworn at them or whatever, I can't see any justification whatsoever for punching him while he is laying there in handcuffs. It's appalling."

Mr Rowe said it was fortunate there was video footage of the incident, since he won justice for his assault only by requisitioning CCTV footage from the Brisbane City Council.

"(Mr Begic) should absolutely go for it and fight for justice but I would say he has a long, hard road ahead of him," he said. "My case has been going for nearly six years and I'm still fighting."

Mr Rowe said he was "absolutely disgusted" by Police Commissioner Bob Atkinson's assertion that police could be justified in punching people in the head.

Top cop on revenge vendetta against those who reveal police misbehaviour

His priorities are arse about. What about working to see that there is no thuggery to record? He should be fired. He is unfit to lead an ethical police force. Fish rot from the head down and Atkinson has just revealed by his behaviour that the Qld. police force is again no exception. Is he another Terry Lewis?

A CULTURE of fear among police whistleblowers has emerged as Queensland's top cop vowed to hunt the source of an alleged police bashing video.

Police Commissioner Bob Atkinson has pledged a "full, thorough and exhaustive" investigation into the alleged bashing of 21-year-old chef Noa Begic in the bowels of the Surfers Paradise police station. Mr Begic had his hands cuffed behind his back when officers were seen kneeing and punching him.

But Mr Atkinson has also flagged an inquiry into how The Courier-Mail obtained the CCTV footage of Mr Begic's bashing before breaking the story on Wednesday.

The pursuit follows news that Constable Bree Sonter was asked to explain her role in blowing the whistle on former colleague Benjamin Price, who was jailed after he assaulted prisoners.

The Courier-Mail understands that Constable Sonter, labelled "heroic" by the Crime and Misconduct Commission when she was the only officer to report Price, was under investigation for why she did not allegedly alert authorities earlier about his behaviour.

The Price court case and subsequent stories in The Courier-Mail raised questions about how slowly police reacted to the initial report.

Operation Tesco, a 2010 CMC inquiry into Gold Coast police misconduct, heard how a Burleigh Heads CIB whistleblower was given a can of dog food as a "secret Santa" gift by a colleague. The present, handed out at an office Christmas party, was given after he was suspected of "dogging" a workmate over disciplinary matters.

Last November, an inspector from the Ethical Standards Command, the internal affairs division which investigates allegations of police misconduct, was stood down after he left a can of dog food on a colleague's desk allegedly to reprimand him for being a "snitch".

Mr Atkinson said he did not believe the release of the Surfers Paradise video was a "whistleblower act" as an internal investigation into the incident was already under way. "There's nothing there that is exposing or uncovering anything," he said. [You could have fooled me!]

But leading criminal lawyer Bill Potts said police would not have taken the case as seriously without the media exposure. "But for brave whistleblowers and journalists revealing these sorts of things, this type of behaviour would not be exposed in the significant way it has been," Mr Potts said.

Queensland Civil Liberties Council vice-president Terry O'Gorman said Mr Atkinson should be more concerned with the behaviour in the video than in how it went public.

"Rather than conducting a witchhunt into how a video embarrassing the QPS was leaked to the media, Mr Atkinson should be conducting his own inquiry into Gold Coast Police Command, who apparently did nothing about the video or the police involved in the alleged bashing until the video was publicly released," Mr Potts said.


Thursday, February 16, 2012

Driver claims Qld. police bullying people to plead guilty over speeding fines

ONE of the 3000 motorists caught speeding in the Clem7 Tunnel last May has claimed police are "bullying" people into pleading guilty to avoid embarrassment over the controversial fines.

Peter Arnouts is among dozens challenging the fines issued in May after police started enforcing changes to variable speed signs in the tollway.

Although he wanted to plead not guilty because he believed he was in the right, Mr Arnouts said he was "cornered in a room" by two police before the hearing and told he would lose.

"They said they'd reduce the speed on my ticket from 71 to 69 to bring the cost of the fine down from $466 to $333 but only if I pleaded guilty," Mr Arnouts said.

"Then they told me if I went ahead with a not guilty plea, they'd have to bring an expert up from down south which meant I could be liable for costs of $6000. "I felt intimidated, like I was being bullied into it."

Mr Arnouts did as he was told and pleaded guilty but said he had decided to speak out so others would be prepared. "They should know what to expect," he said.

William Burnett also appeared in court this month to fight a Clem7 speeding fine and was also told police would lower the speed to reduce the fine - if he pleaded guilty.

But Mr Burnett said he felt the police prosecutor explained the situation clearly and the decision was left up to him. "She said 'no-one has got off yet and going by the letter of the law they're very unlikely to'," he said.

"She spent a bit of time and told me if I pleaded guilty the magistrate would ask if there was anything I wanted to say, which would give me a chance to say my piece."

The claims follow the release of figures showing police tore up more speeding fines issued in the Clem7 Tunnel due to technical faults, than at any other location.

Police officers sometimes justified in punching people in the head, says Qld. Commissioner Bob Atkinson

QUEENSLAND'S top cop has declared officers can be justified in punching people in the head. Police Commissioner Bob Atkinson made the comments yesterday after The Courier-Mail revealed CCTV footage from the Surfers Paradise watchhouse showing officers allegedly assaulting 21-year-old chef and father Noa Begic.

Mr Atkinson was asked if there could be any justification for police punching someone in the head, as the footage shows. He said: "Of course ... but it would depend on the circumstances as to whether that use of force - punching someone in the head - was necessary and justifiable."

His comments were backed by Police Minister Neil Roberts. "Yes, if the action was necessary and justifiable, for example as a form of self-defence or in assisting someone else given the circumstances of the situation the officer was confronted at the time," Mr Roberts said.

But Mr Atkinson admitted some officers could become "desensitised" to violence and sometimes "their judgment can be frayed". One officer was stood aside yesterday as the Crime and Misconduct Commission stepped in to oversee the police investigation into the incident.

The Commissioner pledged a "full, complete and exhaustive investigation" but also defended his officers, saying there were many more assaults on police than there were by police on the public. [Big deal!] Mr Atkinson said an average of 600 to 700 complaints of excessive force were made against police each year, but last year 2031 officers were assaulted.

However, he said he did not believe police violence was systemic and complaints about excessive force were declining. "Things haven't gone backwards and I don't believe we're at a crisis point," he said. He would not be drawn on his reaction to the video footage, saying only that it warranted thorough investigation.

Mr Atkinson said the main officer at the centre of the Begic brutality claim had been assigned to desk duties and the CMC had joined the police Ethical Standards Command in a joint investigation.

He also said there would be a separate investigation into how The Courier-Mail obtained the video footage. Mr Atkinson said the leaking of the video was "not a whistleblower act". "There's nothing there that's exposing or uncovering anything," he said.

Australian Civil Liberties Council president Terry O'Gorman said the Begic footage was "appalling" and police brutality was continuing despite the presence of CCTV cameras. "If police are doing this when the CCTV cameras are on, what are they doing away from the cameras?" he said.

Mr O'Gorman said a number of cases of police brutality had not been satisfactorily dealt with, including the bashing of three tourists at Airlie Beach police station. He said while one officer had been jailed over the assaults, others who were present and were "clearly liable" had not been punished.

Earlier, the victim of the brutal police bashing captured on CCTV at a Gold Coast police station made the chilling claims the worst of the violence took place out of the camera's view and officers taunted him that his injuries were "merely a flesh wound".

Noa Begic, 21, was arrested in the early hours of January 29 for being a public nuisance during a night out with friends. Minutes later he was taken to the basement of Surfers Paradise police station, where surveillance footage obtained by The Courier Mail shows him being beaten bloody. A senior officer even uses a bucket to wash away a pool of Mr Begic's blood.

The chef and father-of-one has only now watched the footage for the first time. "It's pretty brutal," he said. "Unfortunately there wasn't a camera around the corner because it would have shown what happened before we came in to view. "I was already bleeding from punches when they pulled me out of the squad car.

"The part just before this video starts is where I get a few really good blows to the head so I was already quite dizzy by this stage. "By the end I was pretty relieved just to make it to the wagon to get out of their grasp."

Even after he was locked in the back of a police wagon it still wasn't over. An officer returned to deliver a few more punches and the door opens again a short time later. "He leaned in and called me racist names and said 'it was only a flesh wound'," said Mr Begic.

"By the end you can actually see a pool of blood from my nose and mouth if you look close enough. "And now you can see him washing away my blood. "At least they're covering their tracks well."


Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Watchdog must probe 'culture of police violence' in wake of video of handcuffed man being bashed

A 'WIDE culture of police violence' needs to be investigated by the new head of the Crime and Misconduct Commission 'as his major priority'.

Australian Council of Civil Liberties president Terry O'Gorman made the call this morning after viewing shocking video, obtained by The Courier-Mail, of an alleged prisoner bashing in the basement of the Surfers Paradise police station last month.

Mr O'Gorman said police brutality was continuing despite the presence of CCTV cameras. "If police are doing this when the CCTV cameras are on, what are they doing away from the cameras?" he said.

"They are committing what the cameras show - excessive violence, and in some cases grossly excessive violence, against people who are already restrained."

Mr O'Gorman said a number of cases of police brutality had not been satisfactorily dealt with, including the bashing of three tourists at Airlie Beach police station. He said while one officer had been jailed over the assaults, others who were present and were 'clearly liable' had not been punished.

And the Queensland Police Service, while releasing video of the incidents, had refused to release the audio showing the full brutality involved.

Mr O'Gorman said police had also escaped criminal prosecution for the bashing of homeless man Bruce Rowe in the Queen St Mall, and lawyers had to mount a civil prosecution on his behalf.

New CMC boss Ross Martin SC needed to urgently tackle police violence, Mr O'Gorman said. "In our view, the new head of the CMC has to deal with the issue of police violence both on the streets, and against people in custody, as his major priority," he said.

"The examples that we're seeing speak to a wide culture of police violence that even the Police Commissioner (Bob Atkinson) has acknowledged."

Video shows shock police bashing of young father

Most of the Gold Coast cops seem to be sheer animals. There has been great unrest about them previously

WHEN Noa Begic clocked off after another long night at work he never imagined he soon would be lying handcuffed in his own blood in the basement of a Gold Coast police station.

The 21-year-old father had just finished a long shift as a chef at a Surfers Paradise restaurant shortly before midnight on January 28 when he decided to head out with friends for a few drinks.

Less than three hours later, after "a few beers and a few shots", he left popular Irish pub Waxy's in high spirits and started singing a song from US hard rockers Rage Against the Machine, when he was approached by police officers on patrol.

"The song is called Take the Power Back," Mr Begic told The Courier-Mail. "I don't know why I was singing it, but it's not even one of their controversial songs and there was no swearing. "But these police officers came over and asked to look at my driver's licence. "Then they just cuffed me."

He said he was led to a police car and repeatedly punched on the short drive back to the Surfers Paradise police station, nestled between kebab shops and strip clubs on Orchid Avenue in the heart of the nightclub strip. When they arrived in the police station basement, Mr Begic, whose only previous encounter with the law was a drink-driving charge, knew he was in trouble.

"Even in the back of the car I got hit in the head about seven times and they were making racist comments about me and then when we ended up in that basement I knew there was more on the way," he said. "It was like those movies where you see stuff like that. "It was very intimidating so of course I was pretty worried and then they ripped in to me again."

Closed-circuit TV footage obtained by The Courier-Mail shows the officers slamming Mr Begic face-first to the ground.

He is then struck with a flurry of knees, elbows and fists before being dragged to his feet and ushered into the back of a nearby police wagon. A short time later, an officer opens the back of the wagon and delivers a series of further punches. A senior officer, present for most of the incident, then pours a bucket of water over the ground to wash away the victim's blood.

Mr Begic said the beating was brutal, the treatment grossly excessive. "It's not like I was fighting back or trying to run away," he said. "I was handcuffed and there were four of them. "I was in some serious pain and really only running on adrenalin to get me through it."

He spent the night in the Southport watchhouse and faced court on charges of public nuisance and obstructing police, to which he plead not guilty. He will face Southport Magistrates Court on April 4.

While he escaped serious physical injury, Mr Begic said he had been depressed and withdrawn since the attack.

But he was gaining courage from making a formal complaint against the police. "When I got let out of the watchhouse a couple of the officers even looked at me and went, 'whoa, did you want to make a complaint?' "And at the time I thought there was no point.

"But the more people I have spoken to about what happened to me, the more stories I have heard about it happening to other people. "It might make them think twice next time they try it with someone else."

Police yesterday said the Ethical Standards Command was investigating a complaint of excessive use of force alleged to have occurred at the Surfers Paradise police station on January 29. The investigation is continuing.

Police told AAP the Ethical Standards Command was investigating a complaint of excessive force alleged to have occurred at the Surfers Paradise police station on January 29 and no further comment would be made. Comment has been sought from Police Commissioner Bob Atkinson.

Queensland Police Union president Ian Leavers said it would be inappropriate to comment because charges against Mr Begic were still before the courts. "However, the police union fully supports all police involved and we look forward to the chance to make public all facts of this matter in due course," he said in a statement to AAP.

Queensland Council for Civil Liberties spokesman Terry O'Gorman said the incoming chairman of the Crime and Misconduct Commission should investigate the excessive force claim and a culture of impunity in the police service.

"The first thing we will be asking him to do is review throughout the state the procedures for dealing with complaints where people say they have been bashed by police," Mr O'Gorman told the ABC. "There is a culture of impunity amongst a significant number of police who know they can assault people in custody and get away with it."


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Police Commissioner Bob Atkinson caught speeding on Story Bridge, fined $133

POLICE Commissioner Bob Atkinson has been caught speeding on the Story Bridge – a blunder he has revealed two days after police and The Courier-Mail launched a road safety campaign.

Mr Atkinson was caught on February 3 and was believed to be travelling at 70km/h in a 60km/h zone. He will lose one demerit point and pay a fine of $133.

Mr Atkinson said he was embarrassed because of his position and because he had just been promoting the road safety message to media. "I feel as though I've let you down, I feel as though I've let my colleagues down (and) I feel as though I've let the community down," he told reporters in Brisbane.

He has blamed the offence on a lapse in concentration. He told reporters that he did not see the speed camera flash while he was driving with a colleague to police headquarters. "It was brought to my notice that there might be an issue last Friday," he said.

It's not the first time the police chief been nabbed for driving too fast. Mr Atkinson said he received a ticket for a similar speeding offence in 2009 while holidaying in NSW. He said he was also caught speeding in 1998 when he was an assistant commissioner in far north Queensland based at Cairns. In 2004, he rear-ended another vehicle while driving a police car and was deemed to have been following the car too closely.

Mr Atkinson said the latest infringement was the only speeding ticket he had received in Queensland in the 11 years that he has been police commissioner.

On Monday, Traffic Hot Spots: You Drive the Change was launched, a campaign encouraging motorists to report bad driving and dangerous roads via The Courier-Mail’s website.

Speeding is listed as one of the Fatal Four, which contribute to the state's road toll.

In a statement posted online, Mr Atkinon said said he accepted responsibility for this infringement and had paid the fine.

"I was aware that the section of roadway was a 60kph zone but was not consciously or deliberately exceeding the speed limit," he said. He blamed a "lapse of concentration". "The detection was from a fixed speed camera. I was aware of its existence in that area.

I sincerely regret this occurrence and apologise to my colleagues and the community. I also acknowledge the support of the media to myself and the QPS in our combined efforts to reduce the road toll.

"The most important issue for me is that those efforts and that work continue unabated. "Despite this breach I am and remain genuinely committed to reducing the road toll and also hope to stay involved in that area after I retire from the QPS."