There must be a question on the NSW police officer application form to ensure that potential employees have a certain lack of humanity that compels them to act in an offensive and often harmful manner that in essence conveys the complete opposite of the stated purpose of the role.
On 14 February 2021, NSW police picked up a 15-year-old First Nations boy over breach of bail and put him in the lockup. After blocking the toilet in his cell, he was moved to another, at which point he allegedly became hostile, and when officers entered the cell, the boy punched one in the chin.
The teen then threatened self-harm, so an ambulance was called and after the boy had been sedated and restrained on a stretcher one of the officers placed a towel over his face, while another repeatedly touched the boy’s exposed nipple and made turkey gobbling noises.
The footage of the incident shows all six officers standing around laughing about the nipple grabbing. Then as the trolley was about to be wheeled away, the teen and another officer can be seen looking at each other. The boy appears to smile, and the officer grabs him around the throat.
Just a kid
NSW police charged the boy with assaulting a police officer following the incident in the cell. But when the teen went before Parramatta Children’s Court in June 2021, the magistrate dismissed the charge, implying the footage showed the officers involved were using excessive force.
Following his court appearance, an Aboriginal Legal Service solicitor filed a complaint with the Law Enforcement Conduct Commission (LECC) in relation to what happened at the station that night, and in particular the one officer who grabbed at the sedated and restrained boy’s nipple twice.
The state’s sole police watchdog then launched an investigation into the incident. The LECC went on to describe it as involving “a gangly, slightly built 15-year-old Aboriginal boy” restrained and sedated on a stretcher with his face covered being humiliated by a group of six adult police officers.
The law enforcement watchdog deemed the incident “disgraceful”, and that the officer who’d touched the boy’s nipple had engaged in “serious misconduct”. The LECC recommended non-reviewable action be taken against him, while the other officers should be given further training.
“Not fit” for a “position of power”
On the same day that the LECC released its findings, the 5th of April, the Aboriginal Legal Service put out a press release, stating that rather than the officer in question being subjected to some internal NSW Police Force discipline, criminal charges should be laid against him.
Chief executive of the Aboriginal Legal Service (NSW/ACT) Karly Warner pointed out that not only had the officer been partaking in this bizarre behaviour and humiliating the boy in front of a group of adults, but he was doing it at a time when the boy had been threatening self-harm.
“This man did not protect and serve. He is not fit to be a police officer nor to be in any position of power over others, let alone children,” Warner said, adding that the ALS is expecting that he be terminated from his position and then face criminal charges.