Politics

Victoria Police Won’t Stand Down Cops Who Beat A Disability Pensioner

The six cops involved are all still on duty.

victoria police

It’s apparently “too early” to stand down six cops who dragged a disability pensioner out of his house and beat him on his front lawn, Victoria Police Assistant Commissioner Luke Cornelius said this morning, despite pretty damning CCTV footage of of the incident.

An investigation by The Age and the ABC revealed footage of six police officers dragging a mentally ill man from his front steps and onto his lawn, where they pinned him to the ground, beat his legs with a police baton, pepper sprayed him at close range, and then turned a garden hose on him until he choked.

The victim of the brutality, identified only as John, told 7.30 “I thought I was going to die”, and “I really, literally, thought I was going to drown”.

Police were initially called to John’s home when his carers expressed concern for his wellbeing. When they arrived, John told them he was withdrawing from pain medication and wanted to be left alone. Victoria Police have the power to forcibly take a person to hospital if they believe they pose a danger to themselves or others.

Victoria Police has confirmed it is investigating the incident, and released a statement yesterday saying it has “no tolerance for poor behaviour within its ranks”.

“We want people to have absolute confidence that when they make a complaint against police, it will be investigated thoroughly and with integrity”, the statement read.

This morning, however, Assistant Commissioner Luke Cornelius said this investigation would not involve immediately standing down the officers being investigated, meaning they are still on active duty.

“It is not our practice to stand members down upon receipt of complaint,” Cornelius told reporters. “Our officers make mistakes like anyone else and when that happens we seek to learn from them. When those mistakes are not mere mistakes, but are the result of intentional conduct, then of course we seek to hold those officers to account.”

The Assistant Commissioner’s statement comes just a week after Victoria’s Independent Broad-Based Anti-Corruption Commission (IBAC) released the findings of its audit of Victoria Police’s oversight of serious incidents, which identified a number of serious deficiencies in the police’s internal investigation processes. Amongst those problems were poor handling of conflicts of interest, and a failure to consider evidence that should have been included in over half of cases.

Victoria Police continues to resist having its internal investigations taken over by an independent third party, saying in a statement yesterday that “the moment we outsource this to an external body is the moment we stop putting integrity at the forefront of everything we do”.