NSW police are investigating an incident where a protester chained to equipment was sprayed in the face with capsicum spray by a policeman at the Doubtful Creek anti CSG blockade near Kyogle on Tuesday.
The incident, reported nationally this morning by the ABC AM program, amounted to ‘torture’ of the protester, and not just an assault, according to a law lecturer.
As reported exclusively in Echonetdaily yesterday, the protester named Gareth locked on to the underside of the truck on Tuesday afternoon as drilling vehicles left the Metgasco CSG site.
Southern Cross University (SCU) law lecturer Aidan Ricketts told AM that the police officer ‘in this case has gone too far’ and expected Gareth to lodge a formal complaint against police.
‘At law that would be an assault or possibly an assault occasioning actual bodily harm,’ Mr Ricketts, a liaison officer between police and protesters, said.
‘Clearly, where a person has both arms locked and can’t remove themselves, to spray them in the face with capsicum spray isn’t just an assault, it pretty much amounts to torture and we view that very, very gravely.
‘We certainly expect that senior police will investigate this inappropriate action.’
Northern Rivers Guardians spokesman Scott Sledge told AM that he was on other side of the truck when Gareth was sprayed and he yelled to police that they could ‘not do that as he was locked on and defenceless and that’s torture’.
NSW Police have confirmed capsicum spray was used on the 45 year old protester and that an investigation would take place.
Police guidelines, according to AM, say capsicum spray can only be used on three occasions: to protect human life, as a less lethal option for controlling people where violent resistance or confrontation occurs, or as protection against animals.
Yesterday, Gareth told Echonetdaily that police ‘held the capsicum spray up to my face and filled my eyes full of capsicum spray.
‘When I wouldn’t unlock, they then used pain compliance techniques. They were pinching my elbows and pushing down on my foot into a straight position.
‘They did it for a short period of time. They realised that it was just pissing me off and that it wasn’t going to work, and they stopped at the instigation of the police rescue guy.’
Gareth was arrested and taken to Lismore Police station but he wasn’t charged.