Inquiry launched into Aboriginal man struck by South Australian police in video
Police had reportedly gone to the property over an alleged high-risk family violence incident in which a woman was taken to hospital.
The officers saw a man leaving on a bicycle. The police alleged they approached and searched him because of suspicions he was in possession of illegal drugs.
The police statement said the man was initially compliant but after a short time began to resist and a struggle ensued. Police and the man went to the ground as attempts were made to restrain and handcuff him.
A police statement issued on Monday morning said the man was arrested and initially charged with hindering police, resisting police and property damage.
Commissioner Grant Stevens said on Monday afternoon that the man was no longer facing any charges.
He said he would wait to look at the full circumstances before forming a view.
“I can say the video that was uploaded caused concern in terms of police response,” he said. “But in fairness to all people involved, a thorough investigation is being conducted.”
Mr Stevens said body-worn video and statements from the concerned officers and witnesses needed to be reviewed.
“The microscope is on policing and we’d expect the highest standard from our officers in accordance with their training, our policies and the law,” he said.
He rejected suggestions of systemic racism in the force saying that in any organisation of 6000 people there would be “divergent views”.
But he said the vast majority of its officers acted in accordance with regulations and the law.
“I’d refute any suggestion there is systemic racism within the SA police,” he said.
The incident came less than two weeks after more than 5000 people protested in Adelaide calling for justice over the death of US man George Floyd and an end to Indigenous deaths in custody.
Activist Latoya Aroha Rule attended the Port Adelaide Police Station where the man was held to seek information about his condition and said she was concerned that he did not appear to have been given proper medical attention.
She told The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald she had spoken to people who were both witnesses to the incident and who were with him afterwards, but not to the man himself.
“They are distraught,” she said.
She said the police involved in the incident should have been immediately charged with assault.
“The fact they have just been put on administrative duties is just not good enough,” she said.
Miss Rule said there needed to also be a broader independent inquiry into how South Australian police treated Indigenous people.
But the SA Police Association said it would be wrong to conflate current events in the United States with the actions of Australian police officers.
“It is wrong, dishonest and damaging to depict these events in a way that stirs up an anti-cop attitude in this country,” association president Mark Carroll said.
“It does immeasurable harm to the longstanding relationships police enjoy with their communities.”