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March 9, 2021

Police watchdog finds Byron officer assaulted teen

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The footage of Byron police beating a 16-year-old in a laneway in Byron Bay in January that led to the investigation.

The Law Enforcement Conduct Commission (LECC) has found that a NSW Police Force officer who inflicted multiple baton strikes on a naked 16 year old male in Byron Bay on 11 January 2018 used excessive force and should be considered for prosecution for assault occasioning actual bodily harm. 

The findings in the LECC report on Operation Tambora arose out of events involving the apprehension of a 16-year old male by four police officers at Lateen Lane.

The LECC media release reads, ‘On 6 February 2018, Channel 9 program ‘A Current Affair’ aired mobile phone footage showing four police officers apprehending the male in Byron Bay in the early hours of 11 January 2018.’

‘The footage showed at least one police officer using a baton repeatedly to subdue him. The young male was later identified as a sixteen-year old who had been holidaying with his family in Byron Bay at the time of the incident. The young male is referred to as ‘AO’ in the Commission’s report*.  

‘The investigation was primarily concerned with the conduct of the police officers when attempting to take AO into custody.  This involved consideration of whether the decisions by the police officers to use OC spray (Officer D) and a taser (Officer E) were justified in the circumstances. There was also a significant issue as to the need for the use of a baton on AO (by Officers B and E) and in particular the number and force of baton strikes that were administered to AO, particularly those administered by Officer E at a time when AO appeared to be under restraint. 

‘The Commission’s recommendations, outlined in its Operation Tambora report presented to Parliament today, include the obtaining of advice from the Director of Public Prosecutions with respect to the prosecution of Officer E for assault occasioning actual bodily harm pursuant to section 59 of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW), and that consideration should be given to the taking of action against Officer E under section 181D of the Police Act 1990 or, alternatively, under section 173 of the Police Act 1990. 

‘The Commission held private and public examinations during Operation Tambora, in both Sydney and Byron Bay. The Operation Tambora report, and associated footage, can be found on the Commission website.’ 

* Codenames have been used in the report to protect the identities of the involved persons. 

Background (according to LECC)

The Law Enforcement Conduct Commission is an independent statutory body. The principal functions of the Commission are to detect, investigate and expose serious misconduct and serious maladministration within the NSW Police Force and the NSW Crime Commission. 

The Commission is separate from and completely independent of the NSW Police Force and NSW Crime Commission. The Commission will treat all information confidentially and has powers to protect persons who provide information to it. 

The report is available at www.lecc.nsw.gov.au/news-and-publications/news/release-of-report-on-lecc-operation-tambora


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7 COMMENTS

  1. Everything about this is appalling. Not only was this young person extremely vulnerable, the people dealing with the situation should be condemned for their behaviour. Because they wore a uniform, they thought they could get away with. Where is the professionalism and decency?

    • The findings of the independent investigation by the Law Enforcement Conduct Commission does not support your comment and others’ comments about Byron police or police in general made here and in previous articles on this incident.

      It found the young person was clearly under the influence of a drug and his behaviour was irrational, and that the police were warranted in intervening and taking him into custody. It found only one officer engaged in serious misconduct warranting serious consequences. None of the other officers was found to have engaged in misconduct or that any further action was necessary.

      Policing is a difficult job and those who act appropriately in difficult circumstances like this deserve our support.

  2. Unfortunately this type of treatment is not isolated but is the norm. We are just lucky this one incident was caught on camera. Police are the worst and most violent terrorists and thugs in our society today. No one in trouble should EVER call the police. Australian Police cannot be trusted, and they have zero respect for people or law.

  3. For an action recorded on video camera and aired on public TV. The outcome should suggest that this could be an ongoing behavior given the small amount of information held about how some of this thugs perform their duty. I have suffered personally the extreme use of force and pre-judgments by the BB police force. They push good citizens away from this institution and discredit themselves as protectors of the law.

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