Friday, December 24, 2010

Thug cops escape justice again

They should have been put in front of a jury on a manslaughter charge

THE mother of a Queensland teenager run over and killed after police handcuffed him and forced him to lie on a road is disgusted no charges will be laid.

Andrew Bornen, 16, was lying restrained and face down on a busy suburban roadway in the Ipswich suburb of Brassall when he was struck and killed by a car on February 7, 2009. His heart, aorta and pulmonary trunk were ruptured and he died before an ambulance arrived six minutes later.

Officers had forced the Ipswich teen to lie on the road after reports a youth was armed with a machete in the area. However, Mr Bornen was carrying only a baseball bat when confronted by police and an inquest found he had not been acting aggressively.

Mr Bornen's mother, Helen Donaldson, said the Department of Public Prosecutions told her yesterday no charges would be laid over her son's death. She said the news, delivered just before Christmas, had put her "over the cliff".

"I was a bit disgusted," Ms Donaldson said. "I was very upset, very emotional. I'm down anyway, but for them to ring me two days before Christmas, that is what tops the cake."

Ms Donaldson said she took comfort that the inquest had found her son was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time and had not deserved such treatment. But she said she doubted police had learnt anything from the tragedy. "I at least thought they should have been charged with something," she said.

Director of Public Prosecutions Tony Moynihan, SC, said he had carefully considered evidence that would be admissible in any trial. "There is no suggestion that the police officers were acting unlawfully or not in the execution of their duty in arresting Andrew Bornen, who was intoxicated and armed in public," he said in a statement.

"Given the momentary opportunity the police officers had to assess and act in this situation, the efforts made to alert the driver of the vehicle and the contribution of the driver of the vehicle which ran over and killed Mr Bornen, there is no reasonable prospect of a conviction."

A coroner's inquest found the female driver bore no responsibility for the death.

State Coroner Michael Barnes told the inquest in July he could not accept the evidence of then Senior Constable Anthony Brett and Senior Constable Robert Ward that Bornen, who was drunk, acted aggressively towards them, warranting him being handcuffed on the street.

He said the officers had made a "terrible error of judgment" in leaving the teenager lying there.


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Proposal to reform slack Qld. police disciplinary practices

A BLUEPRINT to dramatically change the way police discipline police has been released. Police watchdog the Crime and Misconduct Commission released its long-awaited report in the internal disciplinary process this morning. It has senior politicians, high-ranking police, bureaucrats and unions in a spin over whether they support the wide-ranging calls for reform.

The CMC made 11 recommendations to improve the disciplinary process which has been regularly attacked by rank-and-file officers as too long and confusing. It has also been attacked on several occasions as a mechanism to cover-up police brutality and mistakes against innocent citizens.

"Among the CMC’s recommendations is for the QPS to elevate complaints management to core business and, in doing so, ensure that its Ethical Standards Command (ESC), responsible for dealing with complaints against police, is adequately resourced," said CMC assistant commissioner of misconduct Warren Strange.

The thrust of many of the proposals is to quicken the whole disciplinary process from investigation to punishment, or acquittal.

If adopted by the State Government, legislation would be amended to force the Police Commissioner, currently Bob Atkinson, to report directly to the CMC on disciplinary investigations. It would also give the Commissioner powers to sack an officer is he loses confidence in his or her performance or conduct.

The CMC was scathing of the current police practice to suspend sanctions that it imposes on officers deemed guilty of misconduct. It called for sanctions to be enforced immediately, not suspended.

Policies would also be re-written to make the definition of "misconduct" consistent at all levels. It said a good disciplinary process was based on the principles of simplicity, effectiveness, transparency and strength.

Move-On Powers

The CMC also released a separate report calling for police on patrol to soften their approach to people in public places. "We have made 11 recommendations, including restricting the use of move-on powers to behaviour," said CMC deputy director of research Dr Rebecca Denning. "This means that the powers can no longer be used against a person for merely being present in a public space.

"The CMC’s review raises concerns about the lack of emphasis on the use of informal conflict resolution methods, such as persuasion and mediation. "The focus of police should be on ensuring the least punitive policing options are selected to match the conduct, with arrest the last resort," Dr Denning said.

The report suggested the homeless and indigenous people were more "at risk" of receiving a harsher interpretation of move-on powers than others. Move-on powers were introduced in 1997, but were not uniform across the state until 2006.


Queensland police officer to be re-tried for assault

A police officer who used capsicum spray on a man before repeatedly hitting him with his baton will be re-tried for assault.

The Court of Appeal in Brisbane this week sent Michael O'Sullivan's case back to the District Court for further hearing after a successful application by the Crime and Misconduct Commission.

Mr O'Sullivan was originally found guilty of common assault in late 2008, over the incident in Brisbane the previous year. The summary trial heard Mr O'Sullivan used capsicum spray on a man and then hit him three times with his baton. The force was deemed to be excessive.

Mr O'Sullivan was fined $700 but no conviction was recorded. He appealed against the verdict, and was awarded an acquittal.

However the CMC has now successfully fought to have the matter sent back for another trial.


Sunday, December 19, 2010

Rogue cops in the Qld. police dog squad

Alarming that such cops had ANY contact with the public

POLICE dog handlers accused each other of stalking, assault, bullying and indecent exposure during years of turmoil and division. One officer was reported for emerging naked from a marked police car after a drinking session, and was accused of separately threatening to kill another handler's dog.

Internal documents reveal the problems facing the state's police dog handlers.

A report says an officer in charge of a drug detection dog spilled out of a police car "entirely naked" while on assignment in north Queensland in late-2007. "He walked the entire drive of the complex naked and which was approximately 100 metres long and at no time attempting to cover up his genitals," a sergeant reported.

Another colleague reported overhearing the officer discussing drink spiking and drugs at one of the local nightclubs earlier on the same night. "If you want to loosen women up, just drop a line of cocaine in their drink and you can do whatever you want . . . drop a few eccies and you will stay hard and up all night," the officer allegedly said.

Further allegations were made against the handler over alleged intimidation of the sergeant who reported his nude run, including a threat to kill her police dog.

There was uproar in the dog squad over plans to transfer the officer to a general police dogs position, with numerous handlers writing letters to oppose the move. "It stresses me that he is capable of carrying his firearm . . . after being on stress leave and making threats to kill persons and dogs," one senior constable wrote.

A separate sergeant claimed the officer had admitted driving past his house at night and shining a light through a bedroom window. An email from another officer says: "Past record illustrates that he responds to managerial guidance and discipline by making false allegations against the manager."

A police dogs training co-ordinator sent an official report in November 2008 highlighting concerns of officers about the handler, who is believed to have since left the service. He was not the only officer to face allegations.

The sergeant who reported his nude runs was accused of bullying by a number of officers and removed from the dog squad for more than a year.


Thursday, December 9, 2010

Queensland police officer quits after using excessive force in teen arrest

Is it too much to hope that he will be prosecuted for assault?

A POLICE officer found to have used excessive force in the arrest of a 15-year-old boy was allowed to resign from the Queensland Police Service before the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal had a chance to sack him. Although the QPS normally requires three months notice from police, Sergeant Damien Chapman submitted his resignation last Thursday and was released at 4pm on Friday.

His departure came just five days before QCAT delivered its sanction after finding Chapman guilty of improper conduct and excessive force, in relation to the arrest of a boy at Clontarf north of Brisbane in May 2007. The 15-year-old who cannot be named, suffered a ruptured spleen as a result of a blow to his side during the arrest.

In a hearing yesterday, the tribunal heard Chapman's resignation was accepted by North Coast Assistant Commissioner Graham Rynders.

In an extraordinary coincidence, Mr Rynders is the brother of Deputy Commissioner Kathy Rynders who had previously found misconduct allegations against Chapman could not be substantiated.

The Crime and Misconduct Commission appealed the police ruling, claiming Chapman should have been dismissed for his conduct. Yesterday tribunal members James Thomas and Susan Booth ruled that had Chapman not resigned from the QPS he would have been dismissed for improper conduct and excessive force.

"The respondent's attempt to cover up his misconduct only aggravates the situation and reveals an attitude that is not acceptable in a serving officer," Mr Thomas said.

He also ordered a "disciplinary declaration" be made against Chapman, limiting his chances of future employment in the public service and security organisations.

A CMC spokeswoman said it was the first time a disciplinary declaration had been made by QCAT against a police officer. "The making of a disciplinary declaration against public sector officers including police, has only been possible since State Parliament passed relevant legislation in late 2009," said the spokeswoman.


Friday, December 3, 2010

Qld. cops who broke man's leg may cost taxpayers $200,000 in compensation

Utter thugs. Imagine the violence needed to break a man's leg. Perhaps worst of all, no word of any disciplinary action against the cops involved. They should be fired -- at a bare minimum

POLICE who broke a man's leg after he taunted them about not being able to park a car could end up costing taxpayers $200,000 in compensation. The leg of Martin Francis, 46, was badly broken in two places, he lost his job and was out of work for eight months after he was wrongfully arrested in August last year and jammed into a police vehicle outside a Mount Isa nightclub.

Mr Francis yesterday said his leg was "nearly snapped in half" in the tussle with three police, the Courier-Mail reported. Surgeons had to pin and screw his bones together during a recovery that took six months. "I was screaming in pain, telling them they had broken my leg," he said. "They told me to shut up, that it was a sore foot."

He said his leg was wedged between two seats and broke as he was dragged by the hair and shoved into a police car. "They were pumped up and looking for action and took their testosterone out on me. I deserve an apology," he said. Extra police were on duty in Mount Isa on the night in anticipation of trouble over the opening of a Rebels bikie gang clubhouse.

Mr Francis said his troubles began when he was smoking outside the Irish Club and criticised police about a poorly parked patrol car.

His lawyer, Kyle Barram, yesterday confirmed he was negotiating an out-of-court settlement with the Queensland Police Service after a magistrate threw out the case against Mr Francis last July. He ordered police to pay Mr Francis's costs. Mr Francis said his foot was still numb, he had trouble walking and struggled to do his tyre fitter's job.

In a damning judgment handed down on July 22, Mount Isa Magistrate Cathy Wadley dismissed all three charges against Mr Francis including disorderly behaviour, failing to leave a premise and obstructing police. She condemned the actions of the three police officers. She described them as "unreliable" and "inconsistent" in their evidence.

"It is obvious, on the evidence, that Mr Francis's leg was broken at the time of being placed into the police vehicle," she said in her judgment. "It is inconceivable that any man who has had his leg broken would not scream out in pain."

She said the officers had reacted to a comment. "This is a case where (they) should have resisted the sting of any insult," she said.

An internal police investigation has been ordered. The Queensland Police Service did not comment last night.


Thursday, December 2, 2010

Qld. cops told to monitor their language and refrain from calling offenders 'idiots' and 'stupid' etc.

POLICE are being chastised for calling alleged offenders idiots, despite state government road safety campaigns branding drink drivers "bloody idiots" and leadfoots as "stupid".

Two officers from the Brisbane West traffic branch have received "managerial guidance" for their language after traffic offenders complained. In one instance a woman who was not wearing a seatbelt was offended when an officer told her she was "an idiot". Another driver claimed police implied he was a liar when the officer said "I don't like people who lie to me" in relation to a traffic offence.

Senior Sergeant Laurence Rucker, who is seeking election to the Queensland Police Union, said he was also chastised for telling a motorist his excuse for flashing his headlights "was bull----". "The first officer who investigated said it was 'everyday Australian language' but the bosses upheld the complaint and I was ordered to undergo managerial guidance," Sen-Sgt Rucker said.

"Police have got to have a certain standard of conduct but it seems a bit much when government advertising campaigns are using terms like idiot and stupid to promote road safety. If I pull up a person and say `slow down, stupid' I'll be charged."

A Queensland Police Service spokesman confirmed complaints of incivility had been substantiated against officers, leaving them to subject to managerial guidance. “All police are bound by a code of conduct which includes treating all people with respect and dignity,” said the spokesman. “An officer calling someone stupid or an idiot could be classified as a breach of discipline.”

Sen-Sgt Rucker said police should be able to speak to drivers "in their own language". "I speak to them, the same way they talk to me," he said. "But some people get very upset about getting a lecture at the same time as getting a ticket."

In the year to June, 3011 complaints were made against police. Less than 4 per cent of complaints were substantiated.


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Dear Kathy under heavy fire

If the spotlight on her is bright enough, she might have the conspiring cops charged. Their behaviour was quite clearly grossly improper but with the coverup traditions in Qld., people are right be fear that justice will not be done

THE Crime and Misconduct Commission says only the Queensland Police Commissioner can resolve perceptions of bias in a high-profile police disciplinary review. Controversy still surrounds the appointment of Deputy Commissioner Kathy Rynders to discipline six officers who investigated the 2004 death in custody of Mulrunji Doomadgee.

Indigenous leaders from far north Queensland are calling for Ms Rynders to be removed, citing the fact she had previously given two of the officers bravery awards for actions during the ensuing Palm Island riots.

Mick Gooda, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, was one to call for Ms Rynders' removal. "It's not only for the perception of justice, it's for the public to have confidence in the justice system," he said. Other indigenous leaders from far north Queensland and the lawyer for the Doomadgee family agree.

This afternoon, the CMC released a statement clarifying that only Commissioner Bob Atkinson can remove Ms Rynders. "Her appointment and the management of any perceived conflict of interest is the responsibility of the Police Commissioner," the statement read. "The CMC's role is to monitor the way the QPS progresses the disciplinary process."

But Police Minister Neil Roberts and high-ranking police have continued to stick by the embattled Deputy Commissioner. Earlier today, Mr Roberts said Ms Rynders was "of the highest integrity and professionalism". Mr Atkinson was unable to be contacted this afternoon.

The CMC has previously recommended the six officers face disciplinary action for their allegedly bungled handling of the investigation in to their colleagues.

Palm Island mayor Alf Lacey told The Courier-Mail this month the six "cannot be let off the hook". "Atkinson and the police hierarchy need to get their act together and discipline those six officers who protected their own and covered up this injustice,'' he said.