Wednesday, February 15, 2012

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."


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