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.


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