Extra police powers introduced in 2013 allow Queensland officers to stop, detain and search a person without a warrant for “anything that may provide evidence of the commission of an offence” if they have a “reasonable suspicion” that the person is a member of a “criminal organisation”.
Melbourne pre-school teacher Hayley van Hostauyen and her boyfriend experienced the effect of these laws first-hand after touching down in Queensland, eager to start their holiday.
Shortly after Hayley drove a rental car from the airport, a tattoo on her boyfriend’s neck caught the eye of police and they pulled the car over.
Hayley’s partner then started to film the encounter on his mobile phone. In the video, one of the officers asks Hayley, “do you have your driver licence on you?” and Hayley quickly produces and hands her licence over. The pair is then asked to step out of the car, and they immediately comply.
As they are stepping out, Hayley politely informs the officers, “we’re recording all of our interactions with you”. One of the officers then asks Hayley’s boyfriend “Do you know why we pulled you over?” to which he calmly replies “Nah I don’t know why you pulled me over”. The officer then informs him that it is because of his tattoo. The officer then asks for his identification and whether he is from Queensland, to which he replies “No, I’m not from Queensland”. The officer then states:
“Yeah mate, the, ah, obviously you’ll be aware that we’ve got legislation down here, whereas if we identify a potential member of a motorcycle gang we have the power to stop, detain and search you. So at this moment I’m exercising that power now. Do you understand that?”
The following exchange then occurs:
Hayley’s partner: “I wasn’t doing anything illegal”,
Police officer: “No, no you don’t have to be mate”.
Hayley’s partner: “So you just pulled me over cause you see a tattoo somewhere?”.
Police officer: “Yep, absolutely”.
Hayley’s partner: “Alright, no worries”.
Police officer: “Right, do you have your drivers licence on you? And what I’ll get you to do is just hand me that mobile phone”.
While being asked for his licence, Hayley’s partner reaches for it in the car and is instantly subjected to tasering.
It is important to note that the man is calm and compliant throughout the incident, and that his actions in reaching into the car immediately followed the officer’s request for his licence. Perhaps it may also be relevant that the pair had just gotten off a plane and into a hire car – which means there was little to no chance of a weapon being inside the car.
There does not appear to be any reasonable justification for the officer’s use of her taser.
After tasering him, the officer gives Hayley’s boyfriend an ultimatum: hand over your phone so the footage can be deleted or both your phone and your partner’s will be confiscated. The officer then takes it upon herself to delete the footage.
As it turns out, the heavy-handed officer is no stranger to being on camera: she has previously featured on the reality show ‘Gold Coast Cop’s, as part of the Rapid Action and Patrol Squad.
And notably, the video clearly shows that she was wearing a police body camera at the time – but she presumably did not activate it to record the encounter.
Video Goes Viral
Hayley’s partner chose to hand over his phone and the officer deleted the footage – which begs the question: why get rid of footage if you have done nothing wrong and have nothing to hide? Another question might be: why didn’t the officer have her body camera turned on at the time? Or: if her body camera was turned on, where is the footage?
Unfortunately for the officer, Hayley’s partner simply recovered the footage from a deleted items folder on his phone, and Hayley then posted it on Facebook under her boyfriend’s caption:
“Just drove out of Gold Coast airport, I have no club gear on at all they simply seen me and my partner Hayley at a red light noticed a 13 on my neck and pulled us over made us get out of car… I was strip searched on the side of a major freeway by four officers and told to get on the ground.”
The video has gone viral, with over a million Facebook shares and millions more views.
Recovering Deleted Footage
Unless a digital camera (or any other form of computer) is physically destroyed or damaged, deleted footage can always be recovered. This can be done by either by accessing deleted files that are visible in folders on your phone, or by sending your phone to a digital recovery expert if the files are not visible.
Like all reputable criminal law firms, we have had several cases where footage, photographs and other computer data that was presumed deleted has been recovered, and has ultimately proven crucial in exonerating and vindicating our clients.
In one recent case, police deleted the footage on our client’s phone after an altercation that occurred when they pulled him over for an alleged vehicle defect. Our client was assaulted by police during the incident and suffered cuts and bruising to his face and body. As is often the case, police claimed that their own in-car camera had not been working at the time. However, after recovering our client’s footage by sending it to a digital recovery expert, it became clear that police had fabricated their version of the events. Faced with the footage, police withdrew the charges of assault police and resisting arrest, and agreed to pay our client’s legal costs. Our client is considering taking further action.
If you are faced with a similar situation, experienced lawyers specialising in criminal law can help you to achieve the optimal outcome in the shortest period of time.