Luis Feliu & Chris Dobney
A man has been forcibly removed from his car in Stuart Street, Mullumbimby, after a standoff lasting about half an hour following a routine police stop around 1pm (Thursday June 11).
Lunchtime shoppers witnessed the standoff between police and a motorist they had pulled over, which ended with the man dragged from his vehicle, handcuffed and taken to the cells in a paddy wagon.
Apparently the elderly male driver of the small Queensland-registered sedan was not wearing a seat belt.
When police approached the car and asked the man to get out of his vehicle, he refused.
Police also unsuccessfully tried to breath-test the man.
A witness said the man tried to drive away but was stopped from doing so.
Onlookers were drawn to the commotion as another police vehicle pulled behind them.
Ten minutes later, at least seven police officers had surrounded the car trying to end the standoff.
One officer then used a small crowbar and smashed the passenger side window of the vehicle to gain entry. He was seen to have cut his arm in doing so.
He was joined by others who pulled the man, aged around mid 60s with grey bushy beard and bald, out of the vehicle and handcuffed him.
Mullumbimby resident Jaz said she saw the incident unfold from the Source bulk food store.
‘They had him stopped here for a while and he was obviously not wanting to get out of the car,’ she told Echonetdaily.
‘They had the window open, maybe five or six inches, two cops, all four arms were in the car trying to pull him out and obviously trying to get the lock up to open the door.
‘He was obviously trying not to get out of the car so they’ve just pulled the whole front of his body and his head through the window and his face and arms have smashed the window.’
Subsequently Echonetdaily witnessed the reinforcement police officers arriving, one of whom cleared the street by shouting aggressively and threatening people who were using cameras and mobile phones to record the incident.
Inspector Gary Cowan of Tweed Byron Local Area Command, who was on the scene, told Echonetdaily ‘it was a traffic stop, pure and simple’.
He said the man refused to comply with an order to get out of the car, attempted to drive away after police had stopped him and when that failed hid the keys to the car.
He said at least one officer had been injured in the incident. ‘My first concern is for the welfare of my officers,’ he said.
As the man was moved into a paddy van he called to people in the street to ‘look after my car’.