Liberty Victoria is deeply concerned and troubled about reports of the violent apprehension of Aboriginal man Korey Penny, while he was on his way to work.
Mr Penny was cycling to work and spear-tackled to the ground by a Victoria Police member. Victoria Police allege that he was cycling without lights and did not stop when told by police to do so.
As well as being spear-tackled to the ground, Mr Penny has said that he was racially vilified and that Victoria Police searched him, destroying his backpack in the process. Victoria Police does not seem to have explained why a personal search of Mr Penny was necessary. His bike has also been irreparably damaged. It seems that no Victoria Police member turned on their body worn camera while interacting with Mr Penny. Victoria Police members are supposed to turn on their body worn cameras when interacting with the public, exercising police powers or arresting someone.
Mr Penny was left injured by the tackle and had to be transported to hospital by ambulance. He has said that Victoria Police did not help him while he was lying injured on the ground. Fortunately, it seems that the injury on his arm is not permanent and will likely heal.
Mr Penny was cycling to work. Even if he were riding without lights or on the footpath, spear-tackling a person to the ground while they are riding is a dangerous act and disproportionate to any alleged offending that Victoria Police say has occurred. Mr Penny posed no threat to any member of Victoria Police. The alleged offences Victoria Police accuse him of are minor and would not result in anything more than a fine.
Just this week, Liberty Victoria called for police to exercise restraint, discretion and in accordance with their responsibilities under the law and the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities. The incident with Mr Penny is another example of Victoria Police acting in a heavy handed and disproportionate way.
Victoria Police have the power to use reasonable force and to arrest people without a warrant in particular circumstances. However, the power to use force and to arrest a person without a warrant is only to be exercised when the situation means it is strictly necessary. The powers have to be exercised in accordance with the rights Victorians have pursuant to the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities. Spear-tackling a person off their bike while they riding to work because of an alleged minor offence that would warrant no more than a fine appears to be disproportionate.
Liberty Victoria joins the calls for an independent investigation of this incident and again urges Victoria Police to respect Victorians’ human rights and act in accordance with their responsibilities under the Charter and the law.
For enquiries contact Liberty Victoria at
firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 03 9670 6422