A Mullumbimby mother has filed a complaint with the NSW Ombudsman, claiming two Tweed Byron LAC police officers harassed and intimidated her.
The Echo has been presented with a letter from the Ombudsman’s office saying the matter has been referred back to the police for an internal investigation. The letter also said the police are obliged to provide the Ombudsman’s office with the report at the end of the investigation.
It comes after similar reports to The Echo regarding the same officer, who has been on duty in the area for some months. The Echo has been informed that earlier this year, police were called to the woman’s property in Mullumbimby making a general inquiry concerning raised voices.
After an initial cordial exchange between the woman and the police officers, the woman claims she and her teenage son were cornered on their porch after she refused to sign a statement.
Behaved like a brute
The complaint by the woman claims that one policeman became aggressive and began shouting and at one point thumped his fist on a table against which she was leaning.
The statement says, ‘The policeman caused extreme insult and harm to both myself and my child and also the NSW Police Force’.
‘He has behaved like a brute towards an unarmed, non-aggressive woman in front of a child. On the woman’s own property. No warrant, no court order and no arrest.’
She also claims the other officer stood by watching, ‘with his hand on his taser.’
The incident happened around the same time that a woman in Logan, Qld, named Sheila Oakley, was tasered in the eyeball and blinded by a police officer who was also allegedly a taser instructor. According to the ABC, around 100 members of the Aboriginal community marched to the police station in solidarity – they demanded that police not carry tasers and be better trained.
Signing police reports
So are the public required to sign police reports?
Jackson Rogers from the NSW Council for Civil Liberties told The Echo that ‘generally speaking’ a person cannot ever be compelled by police to sign a document.
‘There may be some limited exceptions to this rule for very particular circumstances. For example, to collect one’s property after imprisonment (but that is putting a particular gloss on the definition of ‘compulsion’).
‘In this circumstance, it seems the complainant was definitely not required to sign the document, and that the officer in question overstepped the bounds of propriety, if not the law.
‘We would be willing to hear from her further if she does not get satisfaction through her local area command, the complaints assistance unit or the Ombudsman.’
Mr Rogers added that the comment provided ‘does not constitute legal advice and should not be treated as such’.
Those who experience harassment and intimidation by any member of the NSW Police Force can contact NSW Ombudsman on 1800 451 524 or www.ombo.nsw.gov.au. Be sure to note the name of the officer as well as details such as date and time. For more about your rights when dealing with the police, visit www.theshopfront.org/documents/Police_powers_and_your_rights_May_2012.pdf