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Commissioner Statement - Outcome of the arrest of man at Kilburn

31 Jul 2020 3:54pm

South Australia Police have concluded the internal review and investigation relating to the arrest of a 28-year-old man at Kilburn on 15 June 2020.

The final stages of the arrest was recorded on a mobile phone and uploaded to social media, it showed a police officer striking the male in the back.

SAPOL’s review of the incident has comprised three separate, independent enquiries.

The Police Complaints and Discipline Act prohibit disclosure of information and findings due to confidentiality provisions. The Act does not normally allow me to disclose information in relation to, or connected with a matter that forms, or is the subject of a complaint.

However, due to the public interest surrounding this matter, there is sufficient justification for me to use my authority under the Act. I have formed the opinion that it is important to make public the findings of the independent investigations into the actions of the police involved.

A senior police officer at Chief Superintendent level, an officer with extensive investigative experience, was appointed to oversight all aspects of the incident, including the police response.

The first inquiry was an investigation into whether the officers had committed any criminal offences during their interaction with the man.  This investigation was undertaken by Detectives from the Anti-Corruption Section.  It will be alleged the body worn video of one of the officers showed that during the search, the man attempted to break away from police. The footage continues to show the ensuing struggle between this man and the police, which lasted for over four minutes.

Only the final part of the arrest was filmed on the witness’s mobile phone.  At that point, it will be alleged the officers were attempting to handcuff the man, as he was continuing to resist their efforts.  Police will allege that during the struggle the man attempted to access an officer’s OC defensive spray.  In response, an officer struck the man between the shoulder blades before trying to move his arm into a position to allow his wrists to come together.  The body worn video camera of the officer was lost in the struggle and separated from the officer’s shirt.  It was handed to police on Thursday 30 July and the content has been reviewed.

The Anti-Corruption Section investigation determined the officers acted reasonably and in good faith in the circumstances and had not committed any criminal offences in their dealing with the man.

The second inquiry involved an investigation into whether the officers had breached SAPOL’s Code of Conduct in relation to their search of the man, and whether the force they used was excessive in arresting him.  This was conducted by Detectives from the Internal Investigation Section. This investigation found that the officers had acted honestly and reasonably in stopping and searching the man. It will be alleged he did not comply with their directions and resisted police.  This led to the struggle, and the investigation determined the actions of the officers were reasonable in the circumstances and did not breach SAPOL’s Code of Conduct.

The final aspect involved a review of the criminal charges arising from the arrest of the man.  The review of all available evidence was conducted by SAPOL’s Prosecution Services Branch. After a thorough assessment of the man’s actions, it has been determined the original charges were appropriate, and should proceed for determination in court.  A summons will be issued for the man to attend the Port Adelaide Magistrate’s Court on 8 October 2020 and face charges of hinder police, resist police and property damage.

All aspects of the investigation (criminal and police conduct) have been subject to live independent oversight by the Office for Public Integrity (OPI) of the office of the Independent Commissioner Against Corruption.

SAPOL specifically requested OPI give particular attention to these matters. OPI has reviewed the final reports and have determined not to re-assess or give SAPOL any directions in relation to the handling of the report. The effect of this is that the independent oversight of the inquiry has supported the process and outcome. As a result, there will be no disciplinary action taken against the officers involved in the arrest of the man.

I undertook to consider release of SAPOL body worn video at an appropriate time. I will not be releasing the body worn video of the incident at this time as the matter is now before the court.  At the completion of any court proceedings, I will give further consideration to the release of that footage.

Members of South Australia Police are always accountable for their actions and all reported breaches of the Code of Conduct are investigated objectively and thoroughly.